Briefings
Is There an Engineer in the House?

The 107th Congress will include 15 lawmakers with engineering and science backgrounds, according to the National Society of Professional Engineers. John Warner, an influential Republican from Virginia, is currently the only member of the Senate with a technical background.

Among the eight engineers in the House are such veterans as Joe Barton, Michael Bilirakis, and Joe Skeen, all with more than 15 years of Capitol Hill experience. Recent newcomers include engineer Ernie Fletcher and Ph.D. physicist Rush Holt, both starting their second terms this month. Five other representatives boast science degrees, including another Ph.D. physicist, Vernon Ehlers, and Ph.D. chemist John Olver. Barbara Cubin, who received a bachelor's degree in chemistry, is starting her fourth congressional term.

Ironically, the place to find the most technically educated representatives may not be on the Science Committee. In the last session, four engineers and one chemistry major sat on the Commerce Committee. But no matter what committee they serve on, legislators say their technical training has proven invaluable. "My engineering degree helps me approach legislative issues objectively and to identify workable solutions," says Joe Barton. Still, the numbers are small. At a time when technology is revolutionizing society, only 3 percent of the legislators have engineering or science backgrounds. "It's unfortunate there aren't more of us," says Bob Filner.

House of Representatives:

Joe Barton
Joe Barton (R-TX)
B.S., engineering
Texas A&M

Roscoe Bartlett
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Ph.D., physiology
Univ. of Maryland

Michael Bilirakis
Michael Bilirakis (R-FL)
B.S., engineering
Univ. of Pittsburgh

Barbara Cubin
Barbara Cubin (R-WY)
B.S., chemistry
Creighton University

Vernon Ehlers
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
Ph.D., physics
UC-Berkeley

Bob Filner
Bob Filner (D-CA)
B.S., chemistry; Ph.D., history of science
Cornell University

Ernie Fletcher
Ernie Fletcher (R-KY)
B.S., mech. engineering
Univ. of Kentucky

Rush Holt
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Ph.D., physics
New York University

John Hostettler
John Hostettler (R-IN)
B.S., mechanical engineering
Rose-Hulman

Bill Luther
Bill Luther (D-MN)
B.S., electrical engineering
Univ. of Minnesota

John Olver
John Olver (D-MA)
Ph.D., chemistry
MIT

Joe Skeen
Joe Skeen (R-NM)
B .S., engineering
Texas A&M

Clifford Sterns
Clifford Stearns (R-FL)
B.S., electrical engineering
George Washington Univ.

John Sununu
John Sununu (R-NH)
B.S., M.S., mech. engineering,
MIT

 Senate:

John Warner
John Warner (R-VA)
B.S., engineering
Washington and Lee Univ.

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