Shannon Blunt, a professor at the University of Kansas, was selected as one of 16 STEM professionals to serve on an advisory council for President Donald Trump. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology was reestablished by former President George H. W. Bush in 2001 following the 9/11 terror attacks.
PCAST aims to provide information to the president on topics of science, technology, engineering and math. Blunt will specifically be working in his area of expertise: electrical engineering and computer science.
“The purpose of it is to advise the president on issues of science and technology, make recommendations, policy related, for S and T [science and technology] and to basically respond if the president has particular questions on science and technology,” Blunt said. “This group is basically charged with ‘OK, go find answers.’”
For Blunt, this is also an opportunity to serve his country.
“I started my career working for the U.S. Navy, that was right out of school I went to work for the Naval Research Lab,” Blunt said. “The opportunity to serve the country is pretty important to me. So [it’s] something I feel very strongly about. I was very excited to do it.”
The Council will focus on three initiatives during the final year of President Trump’s term: the education and re-education of the STEM workforce, working together on national problems and creating a five year plan for potential disruptive technology areas like advanced communications networks or artificial intelligence.
While Blunt will be involved in every aspect of the council, Erik Perrins, chair of the electrical engineering and computer science department, said EECS is a skill set that can help with defense for the U.S.
“It's really good to have a KU professor on this,” Perrins said. “It’s really good to have EECS, a voice from this part of engineering, and his area is pretty defense oriented.”
Blunt says he is excited for the opportunity and the ability to collaborate with other professionals in the STEM field.
“There's a lot of big problems these days that really need those three facets working together more,” Blunt said.
Former student and KU graduate, Patrick McCormick, said Blunt's work ethic is one of the things that will make it a good fit for the job.
“His own work ethic is a good model for students because he's probably the most hard working person that I know,” McCormick said. “I know that Shannon will do his best to further science and technology in the eyes of the White House to the best of its ability.”