In 1986, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) issued a detailed studies that warn of impending shortages of human resources for science and technology unless corrective intervention is undertaken on a massive scale. In an earlier period of history, the United States may have simply waited for the educational system to respond. However, the shift to a global economy now makes such a wait costly.
Japan, France, Germany and other developed countries are competing technologically with the United States and winning in some quarters. If the U.S. is to maintain its competitive edge and re-establish its global leadership, it must maintain a sufficient number of highly trained scientists and engineers.
The Federal government has developed programs to advance the development of the nation's technical manpower pool. A few of these programs consists of cooperative agreements, collaborative agreements, matching grant program, and technical assistance programs to enhance greater educational excellence.
In addition, the private sector has increased its efforts to address the technical manpower shortage problem by joining forces with the Federal government through the matching grants program to foster innovation and American competitiveness.
In response to Federal and private initiatives and to continue the past tradition of working toward the common good of the nation, a group of three 1890 Land Grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and one urban HBCU has formed an alliance to conduct research and education to increase the U.S. technical manpower pool by targeting more minorities toward science and engineering. These institutions have agreed through a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed in February 1990, to work together to make significant contributions to the nation's efforts toward resolving the technical manpower shortage problem (MOU can be obtained from SEA Headquarters).
To continue the past tradition of working toward the common good of the nation, four HBCUs with strong technical educational programs and a leading national laboratory have established the Science and Engineering Alliance (SEA) to collectively respond to the national technical manpower needs in science and engineering. The four HBCU institutions are: (1) Alabama A&M University (Normal, AL); (2) Jackson State University (Jackson, MS); (3) Prairie View A&M University (Prairie View, TX); and (4) Southern University and A&M College (Baton Rouge, LA). The national laboratory is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) (Livermore, CA).
Known as SEA, "A Unique Resource for the Nation®," the member institutions have substantial enrollments of minority students and offer graduate level programs in agricultural, environmental sciences, physical science and engineering. Each institution also has a substantial track record of first-rate research in these disciplines, and has graduated large numbers of minorities with bachelor degrees in agricultural, the natural sciences and engineering who are pursuing successful careers in industry, government and academia.
The combined student population of the SEA institutions for the 1991/92 academic year is 32,500. In 1991, the SEA institutions
collectively graduated almost 600 African-Americans with science degrees and another 270 with degrees in engineering.
The goals of SEA were:
o Increase the number of top-quality minority students in the science and engineering pipeline in the 90s and into the next
o Increase the incentives as a means to improve the teaching of science and mathematics at the precollege (K-12); and
o Increase the technical expertise of SEA by establishing faculty research collaborations with national laboratories,
governmental agencies and private industries in environmental science, computer science, energy science, engineering
material science, optics and biotechnology.
o To contribute to the nation's research programs through combined research initiatives involving all SEA member
institutions, an example includes the nation's global change and environmental programs; and
o Serve as a "model" in support of the goal to increase America's manpower pool of "Competitive" technical talent.
Over 50 years ago from the steps of the Capitol, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said:
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little."
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 2nd Inaugural Address, One Third of a Nation, January 20, 1937
President Roosevelt had a vision of what was required to move America forward. HBCUs have NEVER been afforded enough financial resources and continue to be among those who have TOO LITTLE. Exactly 53 years from the One Third of a Nation declaration, SEA was formed to join others in making President Roosevelt's vision a reality.
The SEA Files below contains both foundational material on the formation of SEA and some of the accomplishments after operating for over nearly a quarter of a century.