The analyses in the previous sections has largely been confined to macroscopic trends and assessment of U.S. research in chemical engineering at large. In Chapter 4 each subarea of chemical engineering research is assessed separately, using the same metrics.

Using the results of the overall assessment, discussed in earlier sections of this chapter, as well as the summary overview for all subareas, given in Table 4.45 and discussed in detail in Chapter 4, we can draw the following conclusions regarding the state of U.S. chemical engineering research at large:

  • Conclusion 1: It has enjoyed a preeminent position for the past 50 years and is still at the “Forefront” or “Among the World Leaders” in every subarea of chemical engineering research.

  • Conclusion 2: For the last 10 years it has been facing increased competition from European Union and Asian countries, both in terms of volume of research output as well as quality and impact. Although the percentage of U.S. publications has decreased substantially, the quality and impact still remain very high. It is anticipated that competition will further increase in the future due to globalization and growth of competing economies.

  • Conclusion 3: It has been losing ground in the core areas of chemical engineering (transport processes, thermodynamics, kinetics and reaction engineering, and process systems engineering), which raises concern for its capacity to maintain a sufficient number of highly skilled researchers in these areas.

  • Conclusion 4: It has been moving away from the core research areas of the discipline and is increasingly focusing its attention on subjects of interdisciplinary interest at the interface with applied sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics) and other engineering disciplines. Within the scope of these interdisciplinary research activities, it is clearly at the “Forefront,” leading the output (volume and quality) of worldwide chemical engineering research.

  • Conclusion 5: It has been generating an increasing number of patents with continuously increasing commercial impact. Patent productivity of U.S. academic chemical engineering researchers is significantly higher than that of researchers in other countries, and has reached rough parity with that of U.S. chemistry and materials science and engineering. Also, its relative impact on industrial patents has increased.

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