This past Friday, President Obama made a quick stop in Oregon to see the Intel facility. Normally I am a skeptic of such trips as they often are nothing more than a photo-op/fundraiser paid for at taxpayer expense. This was not the case for this visit.
Obama’s motivational speech mirrored his State of the Union focus that we are falling behind in math and science and that our competitive edge is directly linked to technical advancement. He highlighted how companies such as Intel are shining examples of what is right in America and I heartily agree. They make 85% of their products in America and export over 80%. Intel also announced an $8 billion expansion of its factories and research facilities – all in the U.S. – while also spending hundreds of millions on education to advance the cause.
For those of us old enough to remember the Cold War and Kennedy, the speech by Obama reminded me of a similar call when Kennedy challenged us to reach the moon by the end of the 1960’s and to further our science and math education. Obama has the bully pulpit to advance a similar agenda and with the backdrop of Intel, surrounded by youngsters highly engaged in science and technology, he made a most compelling case for the U.S. to step it up.
This Republican was energized by seeing our President in action and using his office to inspire us to greatest rather than instilling political divide. I even got a thrill witnessing the motorcade and Marine One land and takeoff. The icing on the cake was seeing pictures of Obama peering into the world’s most powerful electron microscope to inspect atoms on a computer chip knowing that the microscope was made by FEI Company, my employer and headquartered right next door to Intel.