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Directions in Engineering Research: An Assessment of Opportunities and Needs Executive Summed INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND Engineering research, the application of science in the creation of products and services, is an essential area of technical activity that is seriously undersupported in the United States. This re- search is essential because all creative technological development in an intensely competitive world rests on it; yet it is undersup- ported because its central role in the development of productive goods and services is not clearly understood and recognized. This report is an attempt to close the gap in understanding the na- ture of engineering research and to draw attention to the need for increased support in several key fields. THE NATURE OF ENGINEERING RESEARCH Engineering can no longer be described only in the context of its traditional disciplines: civil, mechanical, chemical, electrical, and so forth. Although these disciplines still form the core of cur- ricula in engineering education, the frontiers of engineering today concern systems the interactions among these core disciplines, 1
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2 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH economics, social values, and the burgeoning of technical and sci- entific knowledge that is reordering world trade and the strategic balance among nations. In contrast to science research, which primarily seeks new knowledge about the natural world, engineering research concen- trates on the man-made world to expand the knowledge base and to identify and prove the physical principles on which advances in design ant! production can be based. This requires strong interac- tions between engineering research and science research, and the boundaries between them are often difficult to discern. Indeed, both require exactly the same types of intellectual activity basic research aimed at improving our understanding of the underlying phenomena, and applied research aimed at developing the practi- cal implications of the new understanding. In engineering, basic research provides the underlying competence on which applica- tions research is based. For example, the evolution of the modern computer from electron tubes to transistors and then to inte- grated circuits is the result of engineering research that converted newly understood physical principles into practical working sys- tems. Taken together, engineering and science research are crucial in a world in which competition through technology has assumed a commanding role in the interactions among nations. Engineering and engineering projects have been an integral part of the human experience since the beginning of civilization. Until quite recently, however, advances in engineering practice were gained by slow and laborious trial-and-error procedures. Then, at about the turn of the last century, modern methods of engineering research firmly based on scientific principles were brought to bear on a wide variety of problems. Engineering knowledge and the technological developments based on it have grown rapidly and continuously ever since. Structures of every kind—residential and commercial buildings, bridges, dams, and tunnels have become larger, stronger, safer, and easier to build through research into their design and construction. As a result of engineering research in materials, mechanics, electronics, and manufacturing processes, machines efficiently and reliably carry out functions once performed by humans and animals. Modern transportation systems automobiles, trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft—are outstanding examples of the contributions of engi- neering research to such technological advances. Conversion tech- nologies to utilize energy sources in their evolution from wood to
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 3 coal to of! and to nuclear power are based on knowledge provided by engineering research. Research in electrical and electronics en- gineering have made our telephone, radio, and television systems possible, and have led to today's worldwide communication net- works linked by satellite. Modern information and data processing systems are closely related developments. Thus, engineering research is simultaneously a generator, stimulator, assimilator, integrator, translator, and promoter of new scientific and technical knowledge, all with the primary objec- tive of making the production of goods and the provision of services easier and more efficient and their use and maintenance less costly. The broad scope of interests and activities encompassed by engi- neering research is illustrated by the following research areas of current opportunity identified in this report:* complex system software; advanced engineered materials; manufacturing systems integration; bioreactors; construction robotics; vehicle/guideway system integration; alternative fuel sources; low-grade mineral recovery; biomedical engineering; hazardous material control; the mechanics of slowly deteriorating systems; computer-aided design of structures; manufacturing modeling and simulation; and electronic device anal packaging technology. FUNDING OUTLOOK Adequate funding, both in terms of amounts and stability, is central to the success of engineering research. Approximately $3.8 billion, about 25 percent of the total federal research budget, was allocated for the support of engineering research in 1985. This rather modest percentage has remained essentially constant for *The Engineering Research Board attaches especially high priority to the first three research areas on the list. All 14 areas are briefly discussed in a later section of the executive summary, "Key Research Opportunities and Needs.
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4 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH almost 20 years, a period during which our nation has experi- enced a steady clecTine in productivity and competitiveness. An overwhelmingly large portion (about 95 percent) of the total fed- eral engineering research budget is devoted to applied engineering research, leaving a mere 5 percent to support basic engineering research. Basic engineering research is largely carried out by aca- demic institutions, but with the financial support of the federal government. In recent years, the states and private industry have become increasingly active partners with the federal government and have significantly increased their support for academic engi- neering research, but federal funding still supports fully 70 percent of the basic science and engineering research now conducted in the United States. Engineering research depends on a continuity of effort in order to be productive. Thus, fluctuations in funding support that can occur when federal agencies must respond to short-term crises, and the interruptions in continuity that result, can create serious problems for both basic and applied research efforts, whether they are carried out in universities, industry, or federal and national laboratories. To the extent that the large, multidisciplinary engineering research centers, now being supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), indicate a trend toward stable funding, they are a timely and welcome development. Two caveats, however, must be recognized. First, the funding made available to the new research centers raises questions about the adequacy of funding support for interdisciplinary research at colleges and universities that do not have such centers. Second, research administrators must strike a balance between research by individuals and the collaborative research of the new engineering research centers. The latter caution introduces the issue of adequate funding for small-scale research projects involving a single investigator and perhaps one or two graduate students. This individual research can be highly effective because it is the ideal scale on which to first explore areas of high-risk engineering research. On the other hand, history suggests that individual researchers in academia have often been more highly and more frequently re- warded than their colleagues who engaged in collaborative research efforts such as those envisioned in the engineering research center concept. Thus, an important issue for university administrators is developing and maintaining balanced support and promotion
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 5 incentives among those investigators involved in smalI-scale, disci- plinary, individual research and those participating in large-scare, multidisciplinary, team research. HUMAN RESOURCES The second fundamental component of engineering research is people. Much evidence suggests that a long-range problem is developing at the baccalaureate level. The U.S. cohort of persons in the 18- to 2~year-old age group is shrinking. Because no decline in the demand for scientists and engineers in the work force including those who will be engaged in engineering research is projected, serious shortages could occur by the end of the century or shortly thereafter. At the graduate level the number of doctoral degrees in engineering granted by American universities seems to be increasing, but the estimated engineering Ph.D. output of 3,400 for 1985 is still substantially less than it was in the late 1960s. Moreover, in Japan, widely acknowledged as one of our strongest international competitors, the ratio of engineering Ph.D. Output to total Ph.D. output is almost twice as high as in the United States, although the absolute numbers are significantly lower. In addition, many Japanese earn their engineering Ph.D.s in the United States, providing evidence both of Japan's national commitment to engineering research and of the high quality of engineering education in the United States. The continuation of that quality, however, is uncertain. In many fields the U.S. industrial demand and attractions for baccalaureate engineers are depleting the ranks of our graduate students and threatening the production of well-trained teachers and researchers needed for the future. INSTITUTIONAL C O NS IDERATIONS The outlook for basic engineering research, especially in acade- mia, is clouded by several factors. First, there is a severe lack of ad- equate facilities and equipment for both instructional and research purposes. The average age of laboratory equipment in engineer- ing schools is about 25 years, and only 18 percent of it is up to state-of-the-art standards. Fully one-fourth of the equipment is totally obsolete. This problem has been temporarily alleviated in some schools for a few areas of research by sharing facilities and
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6 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH by recent gifts from industry. In addition, a variety of academic restrictions and industrial practices have discouraged the conduct of industry-supported research on campus, so that much needed academic/industrial interaction has been limited on issues like cur- riculum development, equipment loans, and personnel exchanges. Beneficial modifications of these past policies and practices are already under way, spurred on by the emerging emphasis on large, multidisciplinary research efforts that often require active indus- trial participation. RECOMMENDATIONS The health and vigor of engineering research in the United States is directly affected by the complex interactions among the many factors discussed previously. Thus, in addition to its pri- mary thrust of identifying the engineering research areas of cur- rent opportunity, the Engineering Research Board has also made a number of recommendations to strengthen the nation's engineer- ing research enterprise that take these factors into account. Brief presentations of 11 major recommendations of the board follow. The first seven recommendations require government action for their implementation. The next two are addressed to university administrators, and these are followed by one directed to industry and one to the engineering research community at large. These recommendations are discussed more fully later in this chapter. Recommendation l: Recognition. Congress and the federal agencies concerned with technology development must recognize the importance of engineering research to the economic health of the nation. In so doing, national patterns of support for research and development should be carefully examined to identify points at which increased federal funding for engineering research would most effectively benefit the overall national research and devel- opment (R&D) effort. In particular, serious consideration should be given to an earlier recommendation made by the National Academy of Engineering that the budget of the NSF's Engineer- ing Directorate should be increased from its annual level of $150 million in 1985 to about $400 million by 1990. Recommendation 2: Stability. The short-term crises encoun- tered by many federal mission agencies frequently involve engineer- ing problems. The engineering research budgets of such agencies
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 7 are, therefore, especially vulnerable to the demands of the quick response initiatives undertaken to resolve them. Congress and the mission agencies should protect engineering research budgets from such demands. A reasonable and stable floor for the funding of core activities should be part of the agency's research budgets, and project managers should have the flexibility to tailor their resources to provide such a floor. Recommendation S: Equipment and Facilities. State and fed- eral legislatures must take steps to encourage gifts of laboratory equipment to engineering schools, for example, by the passage of appropriate tax legislation or the establishment of matching fund programs. Congress should consider an earlier proposal made by the National Academy of Engineering to add a minimum of $30 million per year for the next 5 years to the budget of the NSF's Engineering Directorate for the procurement of research equip- ment and instrumentation. Government contracting and granting agents should permit depreciation charges as normal operating expenses and allow them to accrue toward renovation and replace- ment costs of equipment and facilities. Recommendation 4: Coordination. The Office of Science and Technology Policy should take the lead in strengthening govern- mental coordinating activities in engineering research, which are needed to assist in setting integrated, national engineering research priorities and in monitoring the progress of engineering research programs. Recommendation 5: High-Risk, High-Return Research. Man- agers of agency R&D programs must provide adequate support for high-risk, long-range engineering research with high payoff poten- tials as a complement to their larger interest in research projects with more immediate and direct applications. Special budget cat- egories might be considered for such work. Recommendation 6: Single Investigator projects. The NSF should continue to devote a major share of its engineering research program to small-scale, single investigator projects, in balance with the current interest and activity in multidisciplinary research involving large research centers. Recommendation 7: Stimulation of Industry Research. Con- gress and the policymakers of the Executive Branch of the federal government should expand legislative measures and administrative
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8 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH procedures to stimulate much needed increases in engineering re- search in industry both research conducted in-house by industry and that conducted in academia with industrial support. Recommendation 8: New Talent. University administrators with the assistance of government and industrial leaders must devise programs to attract and retain talented young Ph.D.s in academic engineering research and, where appropriate, to enable established senior faculty to develop new expertise in areas more relevant to current needs. The Presidential Young Investigator program and present acadern~c sabbatical leave policies are steps in the right direction, but much more must be done, especially along the lines of providing research initiation funds and selectively reduced teaching loads for highly qualified researchers. Recommendation 9: Multidisciplinary Research. University administrators must continue to accommodate and encourage mul- tidisciplinary engineering research. Specifically, university policies must support, encourage, and reward successful engineering re- searchers involved in the use of shared facilities and active colia~ oration with colleagues in academia as well as in industrial and government laboratories. Recommendation 10: Industry Support. Industry management at all levels should give greater attention to engineering research and provide more support for it both in-house and in academia. In-house support should particularly include programs of contin- uing professional development and education for the engineering research staff, and the encouragement of greater interactions be- tween these researchers and the rest of the engineering research community. Industry support for academic research could include, for example, joining with federal and state agencies in providing matching grants for engineering curriculum development and re- search initiation, donating laboratory equipment, and exchanging research personnel. Recommendation 11: Transfer of Research Results. Engi- neering researchers and practicing engineers must begin to work consciously and vigorously toward a mutual, sympathetic under- standing of each other's needs and goals so that the transfer of research results into practical engineering design tools and proce- dures can be accomplished effectively and efficiently. Enthusiastic collaborative interaction between researchers and practitioners,
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 9 especially at the interface between engineering research and in- dustrial design, is an important element in the transfer process and must be increased. KEY RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS The Engineering Research Board identified areas of engineer- ing research that, in its judgment, hold the greatest potential for contributing to the nation's economy, security, and social welI- being. To assist it in this endeavor, the board established panels in seven fields of multidisciplinary engineering research: 1. bioengineering systems; 2. construction and structural design systems; 3. energy, mineral, and environmental systems; 4. information, communications, computation, and control systems; 5. manufacturing systems; 6. materials systems; and 7. transportation systems. Each pane! identified those fields of engineering research that appeared to offer the greatest return on the research investment. The board ultimately selected 14 fields, and brief discussions of them follow. No significance is attached to the order in which they are discussed, except to note that the board assigns especially high priority to the first three areas. Complex System Software. The cost of producing and apply- ing software is holding back U.S. manufacturers as well as key defense initiatives. The opportunities for advances in this area are enormous. Yet first, additional research is needed on the efficient development of large software systems. Research on compatibil- ity, reuse, and standardization of key software modules is also important. Related research needs include (1) software reliability, testing, and verification; (2) distributed computer systems; (3) productivity aids; and (4) real-time processing of large volumes of data. Advanced Engineered Materials. Advanced engineered math rials, a designation that implies new methods of processing to obtain prespecified materials properties for specific applications, hold great promise for the creation of new products with new standards of performance in virtually every commercial field and
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10 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH military system. There is almost unlimited potential for this new concept of materials design, but research is needed to capitalize on the opportunities that it affords. For example, better understand- ing of the forces between microparticles can lead to the creation of ceramics with hitherto unattainable strength/temperature charac- teristics. Knowledge of the factors controlling biocompatibility is needed to produce the biomaterials needed to construct new pros- thetic devices and to improve existing ones. Greater knowledge of how materials bind, deform, and rupture is clearly a key factor in satisfying the continuing demand for materials with improved service reliability. Manufacturing Systems Integration. The integration into a manufacturing system of its human and machine-based compo- nents will lead to great improvements in manufacturing efficiency and productivity. Achieving this goal, however, will require ma- jor advances in systematic, generic approaches to the design of computer-integrated manufacturing systems. Research must pro- vide the basis for the development of new hardware and software elements that are modular, compatible with other systems, adapt- able to new requirements, and user-friendly. More basic research should address expert system approaches for the design of complex manufacturing systems. Bioreactors. The annual world market for biotechnology prod- ucts is expected to be about $100 billion by the year 2000, if antic- ipated new bioprocessing technology is developed and successfully scaled up to meet industrial requirements. This expectation is reflected in the current flurry of related activity in Europe, Japan, and the United States. New techniques are needed! for the large- scale culture of plant and animal cells and engineered organisms. Fundamental knowledge of the effects of physical and environmen- tal factors on the biosynthetic pathways within cells is essential to the development of such techniques. In addition, parallel research is needed to develop methods for using various enzymes or cells as catalysts for biosynthesis. Construction Robotics. At about $200 billion per year, the construction industry is one of the largest segments of the national economy. Yet it is labor-intensive and has a low productivity rate. Humans still perform many lifting and installation operations, and consequently the size of many construction components is currently governed by human physical capacity. To extend present industrial robots and automatic material handling equipment to
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 11 construction applications will require research on incorporating such new functions as mobility, flexibility, and high payload-to- weight ratios. Further research will be needed to develop the new construction design concepts, materials, and methods that will have to be devised to exploit these robotic capabilities in the construction workplace. Vehicle/Guideway System Integration. The national trans- portation system should consist of a network in which all forms of transportation and their interconnections function with the great- est possible efficiency. This efficiency is greatly affected by external factors associated with the guideway on which the vehicle travels, such as weather and visibility conditions, traffic patterns, acci- dents, repair and construction activities, and so forth. Safety and economy can be significantly increased by improving the integra- tion between the vehicle and its guideway, taking advantage of the smaller size and reduced cost of current computer and electronic communications equipment. Such improvements might involve, for example, communications, radar braking, navigation aids, guided steering, remote vehicle sensing, and other innovations. Research is needed on techniques for sensing, processing, and displaying data on the condition of both the vehicle and the guideway. Re- search is also needed for the development of engineered safeguards and operator training procedures. Alternative Fuel Sources. Although energy supply is not cur- rently a critical issue, it will most probably reemerge as a major problem within the next few decades. Technology development on a variety of energy sources will minimize the nation's future dependence on imported oil and pave the way for the eventual smooth transition to the use of new sources. Research is needed to provide the engineering knowledge on which to base advances not only in the traditional energy areas, including nuclear power, but also in the newer, less well-developed technologies such as coal liquifaction/gasification, beneficiation, and utilization; oil shale extraction and processing; solar energy conversion; and the con- version of low-grade or low quality fuels. L`ow-Grade Mineral Recovery. U.S. national security and well- being demand that plentiful domestic sources of a broad spectrum of important minerals be maintained. However, many of the high- est quality domestic deposits have been greatly depleted, and those being exploited today are generally low grade and both difficult and expensive to process. New and more economical techniques
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66 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH can expect to receive research support in that area from these traditional sources. Senior Faculty Universities should also do more to encourage senior faculty to develop new areas of research expertise as their established lines of research become less relevant to current needs. A faculty member well established in research is strongly tempted to continue work- ing in one area through a full 3(> to Midyear career, if possible. Given the rapid rate of change in engineering technologies, this is not a workable approach. Changes in a university professor's research emphasis should occur on a much shorter time scale. In- dustrial leaves, permitting senior faculty members to spend a year or two in industry to get started in a new research area, can be very effective. A full-year sabbatical leave at another, carefully chosen university also can be effective. A program of fellowships for senior faculty specifically aimed at research redirection could be an effective complement to industrial and university sabbati- cal leaves. Faculty salary policies can offer an effective incentive if significant rewards are permitted to accrue to those who are successful in developing productive research and teaching in new technical areas. CROSS-DISCIPLINARY RESEARCH AND EDUCATION Every pane} represented within the Engineering Research Board's scope of study is profoundly cros~disciplinary in nature. Indeed, engineering systems research in all areas with economic and technological importance cuts across the established disci- plinary boundaries. Industry must and does operate in a cross- disciplinary systems mode, from applied research to development to design and production. Engineering students therefore should be educated to perform well in the cross-disciplinary mode within a systems environment. This requirement in turn calls for those who teach them to understand and (on occasion, at least) to par- ticipate In group efforts that cut across disciplinary lines. Universities have been criticized for resisting integration of their engineering specialities into a whole that should serve both themselves and their clients (government as well as industry) better than current alignments do. Part of the problem is that
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 67 cross-disciplinary research is not easily encompassed within the traditional reward system for university faculty, or within the academic department structure. Faculty who affiliate with a cross-disciplinary activity outside the departments have no nat- ural constituency within the departmental structure that controls promotion and tenure. When young faculty members participate in research activities that are viewed as not being "intellectually tough, their publication record in these areas is frequently dis- counted. Thus, it is important for them to have another major suit. One solution is for untenured faculty to have joint appoint- ments in the traditional discipline and the new activity. There are limitations to this approach, however, because the individual has to do Trouble duty in terms of departmental citizenship; and there is a constant risk of diluting faculty research output by dividing it between the two activities. Probably the best solution is to maintain such high standards in the interdisciplinary programs that they are above reasonable criticism by the faculty. At the same time, the program partici- pants should strive to create a better sense of understanding among the nonparticipating faculty regarding the mission and goals of the activity. Fellowships specificltly targeted to encourage Ph.D. grad- uates in one discipline to do postdoctoral research in another would facilitate communication among disciplines and reseeds the faculty with individual who are experienced in the cross-disciplinary ap- proach. Such fellowships, extended by industry and government, should carry stipends equal to those of beginning assistant pro- fessors of engineering. Normal postdoctoral appointments, with their modest stipends, attract ample numbers of science Ph.D.s but almost no domestic engineering Ph.D.s. The problems associated with cross-disciplinary research and education must not be downplayed. Optimal tuning of what might be called the specialist/generaTist axis Is still especially in the university a highly nonlinear endeavor. The integration of talent that has often worked so weD in industry task forces has worked because there was something to integrate in the first place. In university research the correct balance is equally ~rnportant, but perhaps harder to discern. It must in any case ensure that stu- dents receive a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of specific disciplines.
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68 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH The basic exposure now offered in rigorous undergraduate engineering curricula will continue to serve the nation's needs in the future. Indeed, if we omit these basic studies we will soon encounter a new kind of crisis in engineering education. What is needed is more exposure in the curriculum to the ap- plication of these skills to compound and cross-disciplinary prom lems. This will happen only if the members of the faculty acquaint each other with problems requiring multidisciplinary approaches. Then, as students progress through their necessarily somewhat specialized curricula, they can be exposed to more comprehensive problems and issues. A valuable by-product of that exposure will be a more flexible national pool of engineering researchers and practitioners who are able to move within and across fields to meet the nation's changing technological needs. The board believes that it is much too early to tell whether the results of disciplinary engineering research or of cross-disciplinary research will have the greater impact on future engineering prac- tice. Moreover, we believe that there is no need to resolve the question if indeed resolution in the abstract is possible. Both modes are likely to contribute substantially to the future eco- nomic well-being and industrial competitiveness of our nation. In addition, both modes are investments in the future with a guar- antee of substantial economic return in the aggregate, despite the uncertainty of success of any single engineering research program. It is for this reason that we urge more cross-disciplinary re- search with a systems orientation, through such vehicles as NSF's ERCs, because so little fundamental engineering research at uni- versities is now done in that way. We also urge continued atten- tion to and support of those engineering researchers who prefer to pursue high-quality work in a single discipline as individual investigators or in very small groups. They have in the past and will in the future make significant contributions to the knowledge base on which industry will build. MAXIMIZING THE USE OF FACILITIES Meaningful engineering research and effective education of doctoral-level students require progressively more sophisticated and expensive equipment, facilities, and support staff. The need to expose a large number of graduate engineering students to the advanced technology they will encounter in industry means that
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 69 first-rate facilities should be available at many schools across the nation. A handful of the largest engineering colleges have kept current in selected research areas, but at the cost of substantial fund-raising efforts by faculty and alumni. However, as described in the section "Issues that Determine the Health of Engineering Research, most engineering colleges have been unable to remain up to date in research facilities and instrumentation, or in providing the support staff to maintain and operate costly experimental facilities. Costs are so high that a majority of engineering colleges with graduate programs will have to rely on shared facilities and equipment for a portion of their experimental research. Examples are already evident: the Na- tional Research and Resource Facility for Su~micron Structures at Cornell University, NSF's newly established ERCs, and the four new supercomputer centers encourage participation by researchers from many institutions. Collaborations between universities and industry, and universities and government laboratories, are also very useful means of sharing access to costly research facilities, and should be actively pursued. We welcome the trend toward broader access to these scarce resources. However, successful conduct of research in an environ- ment of shared facilities will require more collaboration between senior researchers than has been common in engineering in the past. University policies must be modified to support, evaluate, and reward success in collaborative research. The fact that other successful fields of university research, such as high-energy physics and astronomy, have out of necessity operated with shared facili- ties for years gives hope that engineering research also can succeed in this mode. Graduate programs in engineering are expensive to operate. Because of the need to educate future practitioners in research methodologies, these programs should be considered more akin to medical science programs (as contrasted to programs in the phys- ical and natural sciences) in terms of their need for equipment and facilities. To provide more funds, university equipment and facilities should be formally depreciated over lifetimes comparable to those used by industry. Contrary to widespread university prac- tice, depreciation charges should be allowed as a normal operating expense and should accrue toward renovation and replacement of equipment and facilities. Of course, in most cases this will require the approval of the sponsor.
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70 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH POLICIES TOWARD GRADUATE STUDY Attracting Nigh- Quality Students University policies and practices concerning graduate students must be modified to induce more of the nation's most able engi- neering undergraduates to continue into M.S. and Ph.D. programs. As we recommended in the section "Issues that Determine the Health of Engineering Research, supporting stipends for gradu- ate students need to be at least half the engineering salary offered by industry to graduates with B.S. degrees. Some fields, such as materials and manufacturing, may need to offer especially attrac- tive fellowships or assistantships in order to attract the numbers of high-quality students they seek. Students are also strongly dis- couraged from pursuing doctoral studies if facilities and equipment available for their use are below industry standards. New Programs Given the changing nature of technology and of industry's de- mand for engineering researchers, it is difficult for academia to keep up. The development of high-quality graduate research programs takes considerable time and effort. The relative scarcity of pro- grams in biotechnology and manufacturing, for example, has been noted. Universities are of necessity conservative institutions- they cannot afford imprudent change. Having seen the decline of student interest in programs that were once fashionable (recent examples would include environmental and nuclear engineering), they are reluctant to innovate quickly. This conservatism is much assuaged, however, by tangible sup- port. Industry offers to support the establishment of needed new programs would be a strong inducement to universities. One sug- gested mechanism would be the use of matching-grant programs at either the state or federal level, with the government matching industry funds provided for this purpose. The board believes that, for new programs to be most effective, they should generally foe targeted at particular fiends. Given the time and resources required to establish high-quality, broad-based programs, it is unlikely that such programs will be able to com- pete with established programs for full-time graduate students. Without an adequate supply of full-time students it is difficult to develop a strong, broad-based research program.
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 71 Universities often fee] pressure from industry to offer part-time graduate study programs. However, the university community be- lieves that whereas part-time programs for the master's degree may be acceptable, part-time doctoral study is in no way equiv- alent to a high-quaTity, full-time Ph.D. program and cannot be relied on to produce first-cIass research personnel. Full-time co- operative programs with industry SILO have promise and should be developed further. POLICY ISSUES FOR INDUSTRY INCREASED SUPPORT OF FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH Industry performs about half of all science and engineering research carried out in the United States, but only about 15-20 percent of the basic research (National Science Foundation, 1984a). Basic research accounts for just 5 percent of all industry R&D expenditures (National Science Board, 1985~. It is appropriate that industry should devote most of its effort to relatively near- term research and product development; this is to be expected. However, in the interest of its [ong-term health and competitiveness, particularly on the international scene, industry should give greater attention to f?`ndamental engineering research, both in-house and at universities. In the manufacturing industries, the trend toward moving "offshore with production may tend to deflect attention away from fundamental engineering research that could improve com- petitiveness over the long term. In other industries (e g., con- struction, shipping, and railroads) there is little support for near- term research and virtually no long-term research. It is obvious that research must compete with other priorities, only beginning with short-term pressures on the bottom line. However, enlight- ened managers must come to realize that an appropriate emphasis on engineering research is in the long-term best interest of any technology-based company. In the dual interest of increasing fundamental engineering research and improving the supply of engineering talent, indus- try should substantially increase its interactions with universities. These interactions can take several forms: . contracting for basic research L'
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72 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH increasing equipment donations (including funds for its operation and maintenance); providing matching funds for "bricks and mortar"; offering consulting contracts to faculty and summer jobs to students; and arranging personnel exchanges and encouraging joint re- search. More of this kind of interaction would be highly beneficial, as it would help to close the existing gap between engineering research and practice. It is not only support in the form of funds and equipment that is important; the personal involvement of gradu- ate students and faculty with their industry counterparts is also extremely valuable. Management support for such interactions is essential. Responsibility for graduate research education rests largely with those universities having strong research programs. The in- teraction of graduate students with research faculty is essential and provides the best possible training environment. NSF and the federal mission agencies have heretofore been the primary sup- porters of graduate education. Now, industry is being increasingly drawn in. In addition to the measures noted previously, inno- vative programs such as the ERCs and the Presidential Young Investigator Awards are attracting industry sponsorship. Faculty fellowships of various kinds, sponsorship of doctoral students, and other such activities also deserve the full support of industry. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT In addition to academic researchers, the national pool of research talent also includes large numbers of experienced re- searchers in industry. These individuals are a valuable resource that must be conserved and nurtured. There are two primary mechanisms by which this resource can be efficiently used. First, industry managers should ensure that the company is making optimum use of its engineering re- search talent. For example, it ~ important to subject the research program to periodic review so that unproductive lines of research can be weeded out. JLn addition, opportunities should be provided for continuing growth of responsibilities and salary in the context
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 73 of technical activities, through "dual-ladder" structures (i.e., tech- nical management paralleling corporate management) and other means. Second, the effective lifetime of researchers can toe extended through continuing professional development and education. Japa- nese engineers, for example, are said to receive very effective continuing training after being employed in industry. They ap- pear to obtain an excellent theoretical education in the univer- sity, which is then augmented by rigorous and substantive prac- tical training on the job. U.S. industry should support atten- dance at technical meetings, short courses, and sabbaticals at academic centers. Universities can organize part-time, weekend, and evening courses in cooperation with local industries. In ad- dition, industrial researchers can be brought into closer contact with academic research through joint university-industry research contracts awarded by government agencies. Finally, industry research engineers could also contribute sig- nificantly to the nation by advising the government on research planning. Such advice would help to stabilize fields of engineer- ing research and coordinate advances in technology across related fields. COOPERATION In the interest of the overall health and competitiveness of industry, companies could aEord to be much more open with their more fundamental engineering research data (e.g., in manufactur- ing), by making it available to the technical community at large. Companies should also take the initiative to form new cooperative consortia along the lines of the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation to advance the state of the art in lag- ging industries. Such joint research ventures can provide excellent mechanisms for industrial investment In needed fundamental and applied research. IMPROVING INTERACTION AMONG THE SECTORS Each of the sectors contributing to the technology develop ment process government, industry, and universities focuses primarily on its own role and its own goals. This "three-legged" approach has worked well, and has been the basis for our nation's
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74 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH past technological successes. Cooperation among the sectors has always been a feature of that process. However, closer coordina- tion and stronger links are now greatly needed. If, as was urged in the introduction to this report, we are to Begin to capital- ize faster and more electively on our breakthroughs in scientific and technological knowledge, we must deliberately strengthen the interactions among the sectors. An important step will be to improve the linkage between engineering researchers and practitioners. This~will require funda- mental changes in attitudes and orientations. Traditionally, many university researchers have been reluctant to interact closely with their industry counterparts and to attend in a direct way to long- range industry needs. Many practicing engineers in industry, for their part, have been poorly equipped to understand the content and implications of university research findings; after entering the work force, they have had little opportunity to learn how to do so. It is imperative that engineering researchers and practitioners alike begin to work consciously toward a mutual understanding of each other's work, needs, and goals, so that the transfer of technology from research to practice can become more effective and efficient. To this end, a crucial step will be to increase the numbers of engineers in industry who are able to understand and utilize the results of research. Exposure to research beyond what is possible at the undergraduate level is essential. The M.S. degree clearly will come to be a requirement in many areas of engineering practice. Some practicing engineers will also hold the Ph.D. These highly educated practitioners could do much to bridge the gap between engineering research and practice. Cooperative research activities have recently been the center of much attention in engineering, and have been a good step in the direction of improving the linkages among sectors. With the help of government, industry and the universities have developed a number of new approaches to research collaboration. For exam- ple, the NSF has established 20 university-industry cooperative research centers, and its ERC program has had high visibility. DOD is establishing a parallel program, and other federal agencies are considering similar actions. The Semiconductor Research Cor- poration, founded in 1982 with a long roster of corporate members, has already organized centers of excellence with long-term thrusts at three universities. In addition, a number of states have initiated successful programs involving joint state, university, and industrial
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OPPORTUNITIES AND NEEDS 75 participation in technology centers of excellence. Individual en- gineering schools have also begun to stress improved interaction with industry through joint research and other programs. Cooperative research programs involving university personnel with their counterparts in industry (and in government laborato- ries) can be fruitful in many ways. They can broaden the base of support for university teaching and research, give (two-way) ac- cess to research skills and equipment not otherwise available, and develop in students and faculty as well as those outside academia an awareness of opportunities and constraints as seen from various perspectives. We have emphasized the importance of instilling in students a sense of the flavor, attitudes, and approaches of engi- neering in the real world. Early contact with the engineering world is the best way to impart that awareness. A tradition must develop in which university people faculty and students alike participate on a long-term and continual basis in both the research and facilities of industry and government. Mutual expectations should be reconciled at the outset of such cooperative research ventures. Each party must try to understand the other's objectives and needs. For example, the conflict be- tween short-term pressures and long-term goad sometimes causes problems in industry-supported university research. Milestones for evaluating progress are one potential solution. Two-way ex- changes of personnel for varying periods are a feature of many successful cooperative research programs. Conflicts over rights to inventions and other intellectual prop- erty sometimes have blocked otherwise promising research rela- tionships between industry and universities. In reality, only a tiny fraction of university research projects result in economically sig- nificant patents or other intellectual property. It is questionable whether, in the aggregate, the realizable value from secured in- tellectual property exceeds the costs incurred In the prospective attempts to cover all contingencies. Worse, the atmosphere of open exchange that IS an essential aspect of university research programs is poisoned when students and faculty become highly sensitized on matters of rights to intellectual property. Thus, we favor university and industry policies that seek research payoffs in the form of new knowledge (avaitable in the public domain) and u)ell-educated graduates, rather than emphasizing patent rights and royalty payments.
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76 DIRECTIONS IN ENGINEERING RESEARCH References Holmstrom, E. I., and J. Petrovich. Engineering Programs in Emerging Areas, 1983-1984 (Higher Education Panel Rep. No. 64~. Washington, DC: American Council on Education, November 1985. National Academy of Engineering. New Directions for Engineering in the National Science Foundation. Report of the Committee to Evaluate the Programs of the National Science Foundation Directorate for Engineer- ing. Washington, DC: National Academy of Engineering, 1985. National Research Council. High Technology Ceramics in Japan. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1984. National Research Council. Engineering Education and Practice in the United States: Foundations of Our Techno-Economic Future. Report of the Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer. Washington, DC: National Research Council, 1985a. National Research Council. Engineering Graduate Education and Research. Report of the Panel on Engineering Graduate Education and Research, Committee on the Education and Utilization of the Engineer. Washing- ton, DC: National Research Council, 1985b. National Science Board. Scicnec Inculcators: The 1985 Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985. National Science Foundation. Academic Research Equip merit in the Physical and Computer Scicncca and Enginecring. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, 1984a. National Science Foundation. National Patterns of Scicnec and Technology Rcsourcce (NSF 84-311~. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, 1984b. National Science Foundation. Federal funds for research and development: Fiscal years 1983, 1984, and 1985 (NSF 84-336~. In: Surveys of Sci- cnec Rceourec~ Scrice (Vol. xxxiii). Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, 1984c. National Science Foundation. Federal funds for resources and development: Federal obligations for research, by agency and detailed field of science, Fiscal Years 1967-85. Washington, DC: National Science Foundation, 1984d. National Science Foundation. International Science and Technology Data Update 1986 (NSF 86-307~. Washington, DC: National Science Foun- dation, 1986. Office of Science and Technology Policy. Report of the White House Science Council, Federal Laboratory Review Panel. Washington, DC: Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1983. Office of Technology Assessment. Commercial Biotechnology: An Intcrnahonal Analyeu (OTA-BA-218~. Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, Once of Technology Assessment, 1984. Schmitt, R. W. Engineering research and international competitiveness. In: The New En~necring Research Centers: Purposes, Goad, and Excitations (pp. 19-27~. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1986.
Representative terms from entire chapter: