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9 II. THE MISSION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF NSF-FUNDED SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTERS WHAT ARE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTERS? The panel conceives a Science and Technology Center as a group of researchers who share common goals or common means such as a laboratory, an instrument or set of instruments, or a data base. Centers are on a scale between the single investigator or a small group of investigators and large national facilities such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research or the national laboratories. Centers contribute to science by enabling researchers to accomplish challenging, longer term projects that they could not undertake at all or as efficiently as individual investigators because of the need for stable support, large facilities or support teams, or simply the need to bring together diverse experiences and expertise. By involving external parties as well as students in their research activities, centers contribute to the more rapid transfer of new knowledge and to the training of professionals with an awareness of potential applications. No single type of center fits the needs or exploits the potential of contemporary research in every field. The science should determine what a center is and does, not the reverse. Innovative researchers and their ideas, not institutions, drive science and, ultimately, economic progress. Thus, the general features of Science and Technology Centers should exhibit diverse forms of organization, participation, and operation. Science and Technology Centers should have research as their major function. Their success should be measured by the quality of the science and the significance of the new knowledge generated. In addition, they should be judged for their effectiveness in transferring knowledge and educating a variable population of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists and other professionals.

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10 THEME A center's "theme," or intellectual focus, should emphasize important research opportunities. It may derive from a single discipline or several disciplines. In either case, centers should be effective in promoting active intellectual collaboration among researchers with varied backgrounds and perspectives acquired in different kinds of science (e.g., basic and applied), different modes of research (e.g., experimental, computational, and theoretical), and cliff Brent sectors (industrial, government, and university). The panel considered the request by the NSF Director for suggestions of promising areas for which the funding of a center might be the best mode of support. Recognizing that some of today's most exciting scien tif ic opportunities were unknown a short time ago, the panel concluded that identifying a small number of candidate areas might inadvertently steer researchers away from areas of even greater promise or prejudice the review process. For these reasons, it would be unwise for the panel or the Foundation to pre-select a limited number of scientific and technological areas. Instead, the scientific community should define the range of research goals through the quality of the proposals it generates for Science and Technology Centers. The panel points out that in recent years there have been a range of reports in which the scientific community described potentially explosive advances in many fields and subfields of science; for example, the research briefings by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy and the disciplinary surveys in chemistry, physics, and other fields by the National Research Council. Many of the opportunities described in these reports could be facilitated by the Science and Technology Center mode of research. Finally, the panel considered the balance between science and technology in Science and Technology Centers. It concluded that such a balance should emerge across the Science and Technology Centers programs of the Foundation and other government agencies but that the mix will vary considerably from one center to another. Some centers will emphasize basic research, while others will have a major technological component. The panel anticipates that NSF, by virtue of its traditional mission, will

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11 concentrate its research. EDUCATION resources on activities involving basic scientific Centers can enhance educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers by increasing the resources available to universities and by providing exposure to leading-edge research that might not be undertaken otherwise. In some cases, centers will introduce students to large-scale collaborative ventures that characterize some industrial research organizations. The instructional mission of centers need not be limited to full-time students and postdoctoral fellows. Some centers will provide continuing education for industrial researchers, visitor programs for scientists from other institutions, personnel exchanges, and conferences and seminars. Where these occur, students will be better equipped to deal with practical problems if they move to industry. By the same token, industrial researchers will be better acquainted with new developments in science. some industrial research organizations. CENTERS AND THEIR UNIVERSITIES The integration of a center into its parent institution is essential. The center's core leadership should comprise faculty belonging to one or more departments of the host university or other participating - universities. The intellectual and administrative home of a center should be on or contiguous to the campus, although a major facility of the center may be located elsewhere. Further, in any proposal for a center, there should be a tangible demonstration of the university's support in the form of space, faculty positions, capital equipment, or access to existing facilities and instrumentation.

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12 MODELS FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTERS Although no current program has precisely the characteristics envisioned for the President's Science and Technology Centers initiative, the National Science Foundation has experience in several closely related activities. Among these are Materials Research Laboratories (9 facilities currently funded at a total of $26 million annually with 15 years of experience); Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers (39 centers currently funded at $3.2 million annually with 7 years of experience); Engineering Research Centers ( 13 centers currently funded at $30 million annually with nearly 3 years of experience); and several specialized centers not part of larger programs. Finally, beginning in fiscal year 1987, NSF will support several new Biological Facilities Centers at an aggregate level of up to $S million. Together, support for these and other existing centers totals approximately $ 115 million in fiscal year 1 987. These NSF centers exhibit a diversity of structures, missions, and modes of operation that may be reflected in the Science and Technology Centers program, but none can be considered a perfect model for the new centers. The panel anticipates and encourages wide variation in the design of center proposals, limited only by the imagination of the scientific community. Possible models for Science and Technology Centers include: o Centers organized around! an intellectual theme that requires drawing together a critical mass of researchers from within a single discipline or from several disciplines. The focus may be experimental, theoretical, or computational; the organization may be within a single university or it may draw researchers from several institutions. For example, theoretical institutes focusing on a single discipline might be characterized by topical programs of limited duration, small permanent staffs, a large Figures provided by the Office of the Comptroller, National Science Foundation.

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13 number of short-term visitors, and broadly attended conferences on topics of current research. o Centers organized around a common facility, set of experimental techniques, a common data base, or research instruments. The latter may be existing techniques and instruments, or the center may be designed to develop new tools of research. The facility need not consist solely or primarily of hardware; multiple uses of a common data base may provide the focus of a center's activities. A "center without walls," a network of research scientists at several institutions who interact frequently by electronic or other means. Such a center could stimulate cooperative research when no single institution has the resources to form a center. Furthermore, it could avoid what might be an undesirable concentration of effort and talent at a single institution or, alternatively, a duplication of activities and investment at several institutions. OUTREACH AND PARTICIPATION The resources available to centers should enable them to undertake a variety of outreach activities to transfer new knowledge to researchers in disciplinary subfields or other sciences or to industry and other sectors. The most effective way to transfer knowledge generated by research is through direct intellectual exchanges -- seminars, conferences, visitor programs, and exchange visits. Knowledge transfer is a "body contact sport." Such activities must be commensurate with the size of the center and appropriate to its research theme. External participation by industry, government, and other sectors can facilitate knowledge transfer, bring different perspectives to research problems, and augment resources. The nature of the problems and opportunities selected for support should govern the form and extent of such participation. It is to be expected that the role of participants and the extent of their involvement will vary greatly among centers and

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14 over time. Participants may be state governments, national laboratories, foundations, and non-profit research institutions as well as industrial enterprises. Opportunities for continuing intellectual exchanges that acquaint academic researchers with practical problems and convey new knowledge and techniques to researchers elsewhere in the public and private sectors are more important than financial support.