when he graduated from school, DOD or NASA were the great places to work and were considered the leading edge. Today’s DOD might be characterized variously as an integrator or an overseer or a manager of R&D—such work is less exciting. There are nonetheless some opportunities to entice people to work at DOD in these areas, and these might include doing a better job of getting the word out on what it is that DOD does, reducing the time that it takes to hire someone, and reducing the time that it takes to obtain a clearance. The goal is to make DOD an employer of choice.
Augustine then touched on several more issues, starting with the challenge posed by export controls and the offshoring of capabilities, a model that has worked well in other industries but not in defense. He noted that participants had suggested that DOD hire non-U.S. citizens and wondered whether much of the classified work is not being classified at too high a level; he suggested that addressing the latter might allow more noncleared personnel to work on projects and would ease the supply crunch.
Augustine also mentioned that a very important approach for getting more scientists and engineers would be to tap into the enormous pool of women and minorities. He referred to data presented at the workshop showing that these groups are underrepresented in STEM fields, and he asked how we attract more women and minorities into such fields, suggesting that K-12 is the point at which to intervene. He stressed the need for teachers to have a background in the core subjects that they are teaching and suggested that DOD could offer summer jobs to teachers.
Next, Augustine discussed the leakage rate in the pipeline that produces engineers and scientists, owing to students not finding high school courses interesting. He referred to Carl Wieman’s talk, in which Wieman observed that money is being siphoned off from teaching to research, a problem that Augustine suggested could be alleviated by DOD and other funding agencies providing more support for research.
Referring to Panel 1, the session on emerging science and technologies, Augustine added a few future technologies that he considered were missing from the discussion. These technologies included robotics; telepresence; the non-intrusive identification of individuals and tracking of their locations continuously; likewise, the continuous tracking of the location of nuclear weapons; and communicating with computers on human terms—for example, asking the computer in plain English, “Where am I?” or ”Where was I last Thursday at noon?”
Augustine then discussed the problems identified by the panelists speaking on acquisition issues. He noted that there are two tracks: the fast track and the regular track. To interest engineers, one would have to concentrate on the fast track, since no one would want to work on a project in which it would take 20 years for a finished product. Further, over that 20-year time span, there is a likelihood of the project’s being canceled. Augustine suggested that prototyping would be one way for industry to preserve its most valuable skills, those of design and development. He further noted that according to a number of studies, there is an anticipated shortfall of from 1 million to 2.5 million workers by 2020, observing that one could multiply by the DOD fraction of the national workforce and get an estimate by field. He observed that although workshop participants had said that it would be difficult to find such estimates, this was a rough-and-ready way to do so.
Augustine noted that there is an issue regarding financial markets and how to get a long-term perspective. He observed that there are disciplines that are merging, and perhaps DOD should look at its own organization and ask whether it is not too stovepiped to go across disciplinary boundaries.
Then Augustine offered what he considers to be the bottom line: specifically, that we do not know how to predict the state of the world that will drive DOD’s demand for engineering and should instead count on a strategy that deals with uncertainty. This points to a need for a workforce composed of people who are current in their fields and maintain their expertise throughout their careers so that they can change course rapidly; it will not be possible to wait 10 or 20 years to produce a new graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Augustine further noted that we could enlarge the pool by including foreign applicants, and we could also benefit by reducing the number of items requiring clearances and by making the field of engineering more attractive.
Augustine then opened the discussion to the floor and asked participants for their observations.
• Sharon Levin, a committee member and session moderator for Panel 3, stressed the need to find ways to collaborate globally against the backdrop of new technology development and the spread of talent worldwide—not everyone is going to be in the United States. She agreed with David Chu about focusing on the demand side, given the limitations on funds, and on export controls and non-citizen workers.