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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness
is also very competitive in the biorelated subareas of research, while Japan is particularly strong in bioprocess engineering. The Panel views the current research trends as healthy. At the same time, it is concerned by the progressive decline of the U.S. position in the core areas, because it is the strength in fundamentals that has enabled generations of chemical engineers to create new and highly competitive technologies for new processes and products.
A strong manufacturing base, culture, and system of innovation, and theexcellence and flexibility of the education and research enterprise havebeen and still are the major determinants of U.S. leadership in chemicalengineering.
U.S. chemical, energy, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, biomedical, materials, and electronics companies are well positioned to maintain their effective global presence. Chemical engineering research in the United States is leading to the creation of new technologies and products. Additionally, the chemical engineering education and research enterprise in the United States is excellent, attracting talented people with desired expertise. As shown by the relative fraction of U.S. and non-U.S. publications from chemical engineers, the U.S. also contributes to new areas much faster than other areas in the world, and is better in tune with innovation. At the same time, there is a risk that some of these strengths could erode the traditional core of chemical engineering.
Factors significantly affecting the leadership position of the United Statesin the future.
The range of chemical engineering research over many spatial and temporal scales, across a broad range of products and processes, and throughout a variety of industries and social needs it serves, has led to innovation and competitiveness but is presently at risk. Most biotechnology and nanotechnology technologies being explored today rely on traditional chemical engineering for implementation. Creating conditions for a more balanced approach that safeguards the dynamic range of chemical engineering research is critical to addressing national needs in energy and the environment and preserving U.S. competitiveness in the future. Future U.S. leadership in chemical engineering is not guaranteed. Many factors could significantly affect the position of the U.S., and these include shifting funding priorities by federal agencies, reductions in industrial support of academic research in the United State, and decreases in talented foreign graduate students, among others.