Public Papers

Remarks to U.S. FIRST in Manchester, New Hampshire


Let me just say first, thanks to Dean Kamen, the brains behind this effort. There were a lot of support brains working with it, too. And a little education right here and I've done a little homework on all the work, the marvelous work that's been done here. And I wish I could be at the inaugural of the FIRST Encounters contest.

By creating this imaginative new partnership between industry and education you all are taking a first step, a big step forward in meeting our goal of making America the number one in science education. Math and science, that's the key to the future, to our being competitive.

And I want to thank the various officials that are with us: Dr. Schmitt, the president of RPI; Jerry Fisher, Baxter Health Care; Ray Price, the president of the Economic Club of New York; Richard Osborne, the president of U.S. FIRST, and Donald Reed, the chairman.

In the 21st century we're going to face a technology race the likes of which we've never seen. But competition makes us strong. And American workers in my view can outthink, outproduce, outcompete anybody, anywhere. And competition made us number one, and competition is going to keep us there. And it compels us to do our best. And it stimulates the desire to win.

How America does at the technology race finish line depends on how we prepare the next generation for the starting line. And to teach this new generation, our administration has put the Federal Government's scientific brainpower and labs to work, teaching high school students about real-life science. Our national technology initiative will create new partnership to move technology out of the labs and into the marketplace.

And this America 2000 that I'm so enthusiastic about, our national education approach, strategy, is revolutionizing, literally, our Nation's schools. And you add it all up, and new technology means new products and new jobs and new economic growth.

When I put forth as one of our six national education goals making America's students the first in science and math, I knew it was a tough challenge. But I knew that challenge would bring out the best in all of us, our teachers, our students, our industries, and our parents. And I'm sure the competition here in Manchester is going to be fierce, but I also know that, no matter who wins, no one is going to lose. And how you play the game is what matters here. And you learn about engineering, but you'll also experience the joy of learning.

And I talk about competition: It's going to be active here, and it's going to be active abroad. But let me just say to the young people: Please do not listen to the siren's call that says, we can't compete, and we've got to turn inward, and we have to resort to isolationism or protectionism. I am confident that the young people here today are going to be able to compete with anyone around the world at any time.

And so we're looking outward. We're looking for more exports and more proficiency in math and science. And I believe, thanks to Mr. Kamen and others who are committed here, we can get the job done.

Thank you, sir, for having me here today.

Note: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. at the Technology Center, the headquarters of U.S. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). In his remarks, he referred to Dean L. Kamen, founder of U.S. FIRST, and Roland Schmitt, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.