•   Buckley suggested that we will need to think more about building systems thinking into the various curricula and some fundamental courses in that area.

•   Schwartz reiterated his point about the technology alliances used by the Army. These are reviewing specific areas of computational materials to create a systems effort that does not involve just individual DOD laboratories but the group of them collectively. The expertise cannot all be corralled in DOD. There is global exchange occurring in academia very freely, but we can only access this if we can collectively interact with it.

The participants asked the panel to state its number one area of S&T on which to focus.

•   Russell suggested that we cannot focus on one area. He further noted that we are often trained in different disciplines than the ones that we pursue in our careers.

•   Sommerer noted that prospective members of the STEM workforce will need to graduate with a lot of higher mathematics. The mathematics needed to practice physics for example has been around for 100 years and is not the mathematics at the frontiers of research. People who leave college without a significant armamentarium of higher mathematics will not be entering the STEM workforce.

Participants asked whether there is enough emphasis on just letting people discover things.

•   Russell referred to Pasteur’s quadrant, in which one can have a basic science result when working on a practical problem. Such a construct can support research that borders on Bohr’s quadrant (basic science without a direct practical result) or Edison’s quadrant (research on a practical problem leading to a practical result).5

•   Sommerer agreed that it was good to ask whether all the emphasis should be on application and development. He suggested that the decadal surveys that the NRC conducts of physics and astronomy are a good model of a process to identify key areas for research amid competition. He noted that such a Delphic model can identify the grand challenges. Another example is the 20 questions to mathematics posed by David Hilbert circa 1900. Sommerer underscored the need to get away from the limitations posed by the question, “What have you done for me lately?”

•   Schwartz noted that diversity presents a funding opportunity: there are extensive opportunities to broaden the spectrum. He emphasized that DOD is a small player in funding for academia—smaller than it was years ago. Schwartz noted there are activities in which DOD is the only source of funding: here you want to encourage free thinking in addition to development for a DOD-specific need. He further noted that there are also broad areas of S&T, the responsibility for which is shared across various government agencies among which DOD is a small player.

Ligler then asked if we can conceive of defense as a technology intended to bring more benefits to humans rather than destroying them.

•   Sommerer answered that security depends on well-being. It is our economy that led to our century of preeminence.


Question to Be Addressed

Estimate the STEM workforce needs by number and field of the DOD and its defense contractors under each of the following three budget scenarios:


5D.E. Stokes. 1997. Pasteur’s Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

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