the overwhelming majority—74.2 percent—of industrial R&D performed in the United States is based in the physical sciences, math, and engineering fields and requires workers with training in those backgrounds.30

The Director of the National Science Foundation, Rita Colwell, has said,

“This message has to be shouted. It can’t continue. We’re down 23-25 percent in math and physics, which is clearly a serious situation.”

  • The nation risks losing essential technological expertise. With the pending retirements of older S&E professionals, the nation will lose experts in key disciplines, for example high-energy physics and nuclear engineering.

  • The nation’s security-sensitive systems are at risk. A dearth of educated U.S. citizens in sensitive technical areas (e.g., nuclear engineering, hypersonics) carries clear and specific national security risks. National technological superiority is part of the foundation of our present military strategy. John Marburger, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has cited the “Hart-Rudman Report” in support of this thesis. The Commission’s work has focused on how American science and technology, as well as education in science and technology, can and should be revitalized to better support the nation’s security needs and interests.31

In many western nations, government adopts a laissez-faire posture toward science and engineering talent development, relying on a market-based approach to foster the next generation of scientists and engineers. The United States can no longer afford to be so complacent.

28  

William Joyce. Government University Industry Research Roundtable. March 12-13, 2002. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.

29  

Stephen A. Merrill. Trends in Federal Support of Research and Graduate Education, [p. 27]. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

30  

Tim Studt and Dr. Jules J. Duga. “Smaller Increase Forecast for US Research Spending” [Table 3— International R&D]. Morris Plains, NJ: R&D Magazine. January 2002.

31  

U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2001.



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