Ender’s Game for Science and Engineering: Games for Real, for Now, or we Lose the Brain War

The U.S. is currently in a global competition for science and engineering talent. Only a small fraction of our populace pursues careers as scientists or engineers, in direct contrast with emerging countries for which 50% or more of college students follow a science or engineering track. The quality of our science and engineering education system is also poor, if international test scores are to be believed. U.S. military and economic dominance is at stake, as outlined starkly by the Hart-Rudman report (the report that correctly predicted the attacks on 9/11):
“Second only to a weapon of mass destruction detonating in an American city, we can think of nothing more dangerous than a failure to manage properly science, technology and
education for the common good over the next quarter century.”
Games have the potential to address this situation head-on, providing mass-customized, quality education on a scale that far exceeds the reach of the U.S. university system in science and engineering fields. Even more compelling are the emerging data that show games provide superior learning outcomes to lecture-based instruction, in almost all cases.

Speaker Details

After receiving her Sc.B. from Brown University (1982) and her M.S.(1984) and Ph.D. (1988) from Stanford University, Merrilea Mayo worked 2 and ½ years at Sandia National Laboratories followed by 11 years as a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University. Her research specialty was the processing and properties of nanocrystalline ceramics, a field in which she has published over 70 publications. In 2003 she served as the President of the 13,000 member Materials Research Society. Dr. May shifted to science policy work following a 1998-99 sabbatical leave in the Office of Senator Lieberman. She helped launch ASTRA, an advocacy organization for the physical sciences, and served as its first Director. She presently serves as the Director of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable at the National Academies, responsible for acquainting the three sectors with major policy issues of the day and coordinating their response. Mayo’s interest in game-based learning derives from both her family’s addiction to games and the potential she sees for games to address several national science policy issues.

Merrilea J. Mayo
Director, Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, the National Academies