Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday toured the University of Maryland’s engineering school and spoke on the importance of investing in United States infrastructure.

Blinken’s visit came on the eve of the Senate’s vote on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Aug. 9, 2021. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and state Sen. Jim Rosapepe were among those in attendance.

In his speech, Blinken touted the scientific innovation at this university, adding that students at the engineering school are “learning advanced manufacturing technologies.” Blinken cited the accomplishments of UMD Loop, a team made up of students at this university who have competed in several SpaceX competitions.

University President Darryll Pines introduces Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Aug. 9, 2021. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

University President Darryll Pines commended Blinken and President Joe Biden on “their commitment to improving” scientific infrastructure in the U.S.

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“Supported by vital government and private funding, we and our university partners are creating knowledge and technologies that our country and world needs,” Pines said. “The world is a better place because of research born out of the University of Maryland.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Aug. 9, 2021. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

With the U.S. accepting more migrants than any other country, according to the United Nations’ 2020 report on international migration, Blinken cited the role of international talent in the U.S. as a contributing factor to the country’s strength.

“There are thousands of top international students here at College Park getting a world class education,” Blinken said.

University President Darryll Pines pins a turtle pin onto House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) suit jacket. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Blinken emphasized that the U.S. must continue domestic infrastructure development in order to remain competitive with countries such as China and Russia.

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“Our rivals, slowly but surely, are pulling closer behind us. In some areas they’re already ahead of us,” Blinken said.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) greets Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

Despite some authoritarian governments heavily investing in domestic renewal programs as well, Blinken said, America’s democratic ideals will prevail.

“Innovation happening here and at thousands of colleges and universities across America is a huge source of our strength,” Blinken said. “And whether America protects and invests in our strength at home is going to determine whether we remain strong in the world and deliver results for the American people.”