NSF Science & Engineering Messengers

Archive for June 2013

From Oil Boom to Science Boom: Fueling North Dakota’s Hi-Tech Economy

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This is a sample blog post composed for the June 25-26 “Science: Becoming the Messenger” workshop in Fargo, North Dakota.

If you read the news lately about North Dakota, you may get the impression that we’re some sort of  economic wunderkind. The reason is that in comparison with the rest of the U.S., North Dakota has an extremely low unemployment rate: Just 3.2 percent. That’s the lowest in the nation, by a considerable margin. And much of it is thanks to an unfolding unconventional oil and gas boom here, which has generated a large number of jobs and considerable wealth.

Clearly, North Dakota has fared better than much of the rest of the country in weathering the Great Recession and keeping its citizens employed—at least in “old economy” industries like agriculture and fossil energy. But if you look forward to the future, we’re not necessarily so well positioned. According to the Washington, D.C. based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, we rank 34th overall in the strength of our new economy sector. The economics of the 21st century will demand a much more tech savvy and advanced workforce, and plentiful jobs in hi tech industries–and what’s more, oil booms by nature are cyclical, and there are reasons to think the current one will someday end. If we’re going to continue to compete, those jobs need to be located and thriving right here in North Dakota.

So how do we ensure a future that’s at least as prosperous as the present? North Dakota EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) is doing its part by helping to spur innovation in sectors that you don’t usually associate with a big oil state—fields such as clean energy, sustainable materials, and green chemistry. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by nsfmessengers

June 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

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