Andrew Viterbi is seriously worried. Not enough U.S. students are entering the fields of science and technology, and that could gravely affect our leadership role in the world.
"What brought down the Russian infrastructure was they just couldn’t keep up with us in what we were doing in defense technology," he says, comparing then to now. And with fewer and fewer students entering the fields of science and engineering, other nations are challenging us.
"We don’t graduate nearly enough scientists and engineers. That is why my philanthropy focuses on education," he says.
On March 2, 2005, Viterbi donated $52 million to the University of Southern California School of Engineering, subsequently renamed the Viterbi School of Engineering. Two years before that, he dedicated the Andrew Viterbi ’52 Computer Center at his high school, Boston Latin. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he and his wife have endowed a professorial chair in EECS, and they have sponsored graduate research fellowships in bioengineering.
Furthermore, the Viterbis have endowed similar activities at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He has helped to construct two science buildings in San Diego and a computer lab in Boston for grades K through 12 as well.
As president of the Viterbi Group, he advises and invests in startup companies in wireless communication, imaging technologies, and network infrastructure. He looks for companies developing new technologies and encourages new researchers and science-focused entrepreneurs.
Viterbi is truly excited about the National Academy of Sciences attacking the issue of the United States’ competitiveness. He is very pleased it is focusing on the "health of our science and technology enterprise. That knowledge and innovation has fueled our economy for the last 50 years, and it is in need of repair," he says. "We need to attract young people into these fields. We don’t graduate nearly enough scientists and engineers. That is why my philanthropy focuses on education."