President Trump Signs Law to Help Veterans Find Jobs in Science and Tech

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President Trump signs the Supporting Veterans In STEM Careers Act into law on Feb. 11, 2020. (The White House)

A new law, signed by President Donald Trump this month, will make veterans eligible to participate in certain programs from the National Science Foundation, a move designed to introduce more vets to jobs in science and technology.

The law, known as the Supporting Veterans In STEM Careers Act, extends to veterans specific NSF scholarship and fellowship programs and different kinds of grants. It took effect Feb. 11.

The National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that invests in fundamental research in science and engineering, offers a number grants to scientists and students, enabling research that might not receive a lot of attention in the private sector.

Funding from the NSF goes through 2,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states. The foundation funds around 12,000 of the 50,000 proposals it receives each year.

The new law includes several reporting requirements, such as a study from the Government Accountability Office on barriers student veterans face when trying to enter a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math-oriented career field, and an order that the NSF report veteran participation in STEM fields in its annual report to Congress.

The bill received bipartisan support when introduced last year, and passed the House and Senate unanimously.

The bill's signing comes on the heels of the president's fiscal 2021 budget request, which includes a proposal to cut the National Science Foundation's funding by 7%, down to $7.7 billion from $8.3 billion in fiscal 2020.

"A focus on Industries of the Future is critical to the Nation's long-term economic and national security. NSF's Big Ideas will play significant roles in not only advancing artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and other potential industries of the future, but in identifying the yet unknown transformative technologies that will emanate from today's investments in basic research," NSF Director France Córdova said in a statement responding to the request. "The president's FY 2021 budget request reflects our commitment to support the administration's research and development priorities."

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com.

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