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Born in Chicago into a political family, Congressman Dan Lipinski (who represents the 3rd District of Illinois) is the son of former U.S. Congressman Bill Lipinski. Dan replaced his father in Congress in 2005. Always fascinated with solving problems, Dan gravitated to engineering and science as a young student. “I remember in high school,” he says, “my calculus and physics teachers — especially Father Thul and Father Fergus — helped mold my childhood fascination into an interest in engineering.” These teachers, together with informal field trips to places like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, helped motivate him to pursue engineering in college.
Why He’s Important: As one of only a handful of engineers in Congress today, Dan wields considerable influence in helping his colleagues in the House and Senate to better understand and debate important issues in science and engineering that come before them– and to be an advocate for technological innovation in America, as well as for advances in science education. His key duties include: serving as a member of the House Committee for Science and Technology; as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, member of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, and as co-chair of Congress’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Caucus.
Other Achievements: Dan is one of the leading supporters in Congress of STEM education and the critical role it plays in training the next generation of innovators and assuring America’s global competitiveness. In addition, as an engineer, he is particularly a staunch advocate for the emerging field of nanotechnology (a branch of engineering that designs and creates materials and tools at the atomic and molecular levels). Nanotechnology — which he terms “the next industrial revolution” — holds promise in many industries including the quest for more powerful computers and communications devices as well as for medical-science applications. When not advancing such issues in the halls of Congress, Dan speaks often on these matters to community groups, schools and industry.
Education: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Duke University. Before joining Congress, Dan was a professor at the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Tennessee.
In His Own Words: “We are seeing America’s competitive edge erode. It is clear that America needs to act now if we want to continue to lead the world in basic research, invent the next generation of products, and reinvent our manufacturing base. But while government has an important role to play, I understand that economic success comes primarily through the private sector, through businesses like [start ups].”