economic training and instincts, familiarity with operations research tools, facility in computer simulation, and practical knowledge of the relevant technologies is extremely difficult. The growing use of graduate students as working interns is an effective, if slow, way of building talent.
The panel presents the following major observations:
The panel continues to be impressed with the technical quality of the staff and the projects under way in the Building and Fire Research Laboratory.
The merger of the two fire divisions to form the new Fire Research Division was a good move, and it is beginning to have a positive effect on morale, focus, and financial stability within the laboratory’s fire-related programs.
A strategic plan is needed to define long-term goals for the laboratory and establish a uniform culture across the divisions. Such a plan should raise the understanding of laboratory objectives both inside and outside the laboratory. Increased focus on understanding customer needs and defining dissemination mechanisms early in projects would also enhance the laboratory’s impact.
Standards and codes determine how design and construction are done in this country, so to have an impact on building technologies, the laboratory needs to develop a plan for providing industry advocates with the technical tools and results they need to promote the use of scientific information in standards and codes development.
Because the laboratory depends on external sources for a significant percentage of its funding, it should have a policy for deciding which external funding opportunities should be pursued. This policy should be clearly communicated to staff and might also be used to help decide what levels of external funding are appropriate for the various laboratory programs.
Strong informal relationships among staff from different divisions are an important element of successful interdisciplinary collaborations. Management should explore mechanisms that let staff build familiarity with activities and personnel throughout the laboratory.