Remarks by MBDA National Director Alejandra Y. Castillo at the Innovations in Science Technology Engineering and Math: National Priorities and NIST

as prepared for delivery


November 3, 2014

National Director Castillo Good morning and welcome to what we know will be the beginning of a very important conversation among stakeholders - full of possibility and promise.

I want to honor and acknowledge the outstanding work of Dr. May and his team here at NIST and our colleagues at the WH Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and all our guests here who serve at Minority Serving Institutions – we greet you with gratitude and excitement for what we know will be an incredible exchange of ideas and information.

The legendary news anchor Tom Brokaw once said: “Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change. Education is essential to change…”

We are here because the wind of change is blowing through the American marketplace demographically, socially, economically…and Mr. Brokaw is right – progress, change and education are inextricably tied together. Progress and change are secured through education. That’s why your presence here today is so important to us at MBDA.

The Innovation economy is opening a new world of possibility for entrepreneurship and strategic partnership between the government and minority serving institutions. These STEM related public private partnerships are already producing incredible outcomes that positively impact our lives through life-saving technologies, job creation and positive economic impact to local economies.

However, minority business owners and by extension, students of color still face obstacles that hinder their economic aspirations. Many lack exposure and connections to dynamic innovation ecosystems, access to startup capital and other higher-growth business development resources and students lack access to the research and cutting edge information that steers them in the direction of STEM careers. As a result, only four percent of businesses in technology-based growth industries are minority-owned, according to a 2012 PolicyBridge report.

As leaders in a global economy, we must commit to strategically educating the next generation of STEM industry professionals.

Innovative research, commercialization and tech- entrepreneurship are the new cornerstones of our 21st century economy and we have got to feed that pipeline with young minds trained to assume leadership while also encouraging the retention of their sense of curiosity – this is the mind of the entrepreneur. And we know that it is entrepreneurial enterprise that has fueled economic recovery and job creation in this country.

When 7 of the 10 fastest growing occupations over the next 10 years are emerging from STEM related fields – we have a lot of work to do to assure our ongoing competitiveness in the global marketplace – and that work begins with you – preparing the hearts and minds of students and accessing the resources available to you through governmental vehicles.

MBDA and the resources of the U.S. Department of Commerce are at your disposal along with our committed staffs in Washington and the 44 Business Centers around the country.

We look forward to a productive exchange.

Thank you.