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Other profound changes are occurring in the way that science and technology (S&T) are developed and acquired. For example:

  • New technological opportunities and threats are appearing with ever-increasing frequency.9
  • For many technologies, the most advanced work is no longer being conducted in the United States.10,11,12
  • For most technologies, the most advanced work is no longer being conducted within the Department of Defense or its contractor community.13
  • Knowledge can no longer be controlled because information penetrates porous geopolitical borders at literally the speed of light.14

CURRENT OUTLOOK

The increasing importance of STEM in maintaining a strong economy and providing national security makes it imperative that the United States have available a substantial, high-quality STEM workforce. However, as compared with the youth of many other countries, American youth seem less attracted to careers in STEM fields. In the recent past this lower level of interest has been substantially offset by the attracting of foreign-born individuals to U.S. research universities and then making it possible for them to remain and contribute to this nation’s well-being and to their own quality of life. More than one-half of the doctoral degrees awarded by U.S. engineering schools go to non-U.S. citizens. Of those non-U.S. citizens who graduated with all types of science and engineering doctorates in 2004, 38 percent had left the United States 5 years later.15 The fraction of master’s degrees awarded to temporary visa holders is smaller but increasing (Figure 1).

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8Amos A. Jordan, William J. Taylor, Jr., Michael J. Meese, Suzanne C. Nielsen, and James Schlesinger. 2009. American National Security: Sixth Edition. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

9National Research Council. 2012. A View of Global S&T Based on Activities of the Board on Global Science and Technology. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

10National Research Council. 2010. S&T Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United States. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

11National Research Council. 2006. Critical Technology Accessibility. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

12Naval Research Advisory Committee. 2010. Status and Future of the Naval R&D Establishment. Available at www.nrac.navy.mil/docs/2010_Summer_Study_Report.pdf. Accessed October 17, 2011.

13Defense Science Board. 2012. Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Basic Research. Available at http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/BasicResearch.pdf. Accessed April 4, 2012.

14National Research Council. 2006. Critical Technology Accessibility. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

15National Science Board. 2012. Science and Engineering Indicators. Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation, p. 3-51.



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