Engineers Call for a Virtual Meeting with the Presidential Candidates


With the presidential election only a month away, engineering and science organizations are calling for virtual meetings with President Bush and Senator John Kerry, according to the October 2004 issue of Engineering Times from the National Society of Professional Engineers.

In August, both Bush and Kerry were invited to participate in separate “virtual town hall meetings” by the CEOs of a number of major U.S. corporations and associations. The invitation has been endorsed by 50 organizations that represent members of industry, the scientific community, and academia, including NSPE.


The candidates’ campaign organizations both acknowledged the invitation, but neither candidate has committed to participating in the virtual meetings, according to a spokesperson from the American Physical Society.


During the virtual meetings, each candidate would deliver a 15-minute speech outlining his vision of science and technology in the future and his plans for those areas in the 21st Century. The speeches would be broadcasted online to participants across the country and followed by a question-and-answer period that would be conducted via e-mail.


“Industry carries out about two-thirds of all U.S. research and development. Large numbers of industrial scientists, engineers, technologists, and managers need to know how each candidate plans to promote a climate that will attract and retain technical jobs in the U.S.,” says Ross Armbrecht, president of the Industrial Research Institute, a sponsoring organization.


In addition, Helen Quinn, president of the American Physical Society, believes that presidential candidates often overlook the votes of scientists and engineers. “This year could be different, especially if both campaigns recognize that these voters could determine the outcome of the presidential election in states such as Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” she says.


The American public strongly aligns itself with scientific research, notes Mary Woolley, president of Research!America. “It is in the public’s interest, as well as their own, for the presidential candidates to address the science and engineering communities directly during this election,” she adds.


Sponsors would work with industry contacts, university faculty members, and national laboratory leaders to gather an audience of thousands for the meetings in order to have a significant representation of the technical and scientific communities present.


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