Congress needs to create a “NSF-Industry Ph.D. Fellows Program.”
Doctoral fellowships are key factors in producing more Ph.D. degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). But the number of NSF graduate research fellowships awarded per thousand college students graduating with degrees in science and engineering dropped from over seven in the early 1960s to just over two in 2005. Rather than simply expand funding for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program (funded at $102 million), Congress should create a new NSF-industry Ph.D. fellows program where firms provide matching funds. To increase these linkages Congress should appropriate $21M/year for the establishment of an NSF-Industry Ph.D. Fellows Program, to support an additional 1,000 Ph.D. students in STEM. The new NSF-industry program would work by enabling industry to contribute $20,250 towards each fellowship, in whatever field(s) the company chooses. NSF would match industry funds dollar-for-dollar.