. "5 Institutional Issues for the New Agenda in Geoengineering." Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
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Geological and Geotechnical Engineering in the New Millennium: Opportunities for Research and Technological Innovation
for interdisciplinary research and education relative to geoengineering. The third set of institutional issues relate to the geoengineering industry, including both private engineers and constructors and government agencies. This chapter also presents the case for development of a more diverse workforce to achieve our new vision for geoengineering.
5.1 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION ISSUES
The committee discussed at length the merits of sole investigator and small investigator projects versus large directed research (research initiatives) and large collaborations to accomplish research advances in geoengineering. The committee was deeply concerned about what it perceives as a continuing trend in NSF toward more foundation-directed research initiatives and away from investigator-driven research. At least in geoengineering the funds available for unsolicited investigator-driven research appear to have diminished almost to the point of disappearance. In fiscal years 2003 and 2004, the geomechanics and geohazards programs at NSF funded only 29 and 14 unsolicited proposals, respectively, with a success rate of 16.1 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, for unsolicited proposals. This is among the lowest success rate of any program in the engineering directorate and NSF as a whole. The diminishing of resources available for unsolicited proposals is counter to the general trend of increased funds for engineering directorate research over those two years and reflects an overall trend in NSF toward foundation-directed research initiatives (e.g., sensors, nanotechnology, and biotechnology). Geoengineers should participate in these initiatives. In fact, one of the major initiatives that has drained funds from the unsolicited proposal program is the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) initiative, in which geoengineers play a major role. The committee believes that the balance between directed and investigator-initiative research has become inappropriate and a larger portion of civil and mechanical systems resources must be committed to the unsolicited proposal program.