In this section we present recommendations for research and development in the near future in terms of these categories. We also indicate to the extent possible the role played by the various types of criteria in making these recommendations. Further details are provided in the chapters of this report. In addition, we make comments and suggestions for government policy and infrastructure based on the experience and judgment of committee members. They are suggestive of the kinds of tools and mechanisms that federal agencies might use to encourage coherence, integration, and overall development of the field.

Application Domains of SE Systems

RECOMMENDATION: The committee concludes that four application domains show the most promise for SE: (1) design, manufacturing, and marketing; (2) medicine and health care; (3) hazardous operations; and (4) training. We recommend that the research needs in these domains be used as one of the principal means to focus SE technology development and testing.

Our review shows that each of these domains includes tasks that are particularly compatible with the projected capabilities of SE. Each of these domains received high scores with respect to the science and technology and practical applications criteria. The domain of hazardous operations also received a high score with respect to the leverage criterion because of the relative lack of attention and funding given to this domain.

The committee has not assigned priority to the application domains of education; information visualization; and telecommunication and teletravel. Although committee members agreed that the education domain is exceedingly important—perhaps the most important of all the domains considered—it was not assigned priority because of our judgment that the development of improved education technology will have only a minor effect on the quality of education actually received. In other words, the main current obstacles to achieving substantial improvements in education are social, political, and economic, not technological. Thus, even though the education domain can be viewed as a high-leverage domain with respect to funding considerations, it is regarded as a low-leverage domain overall. Also, the committee did not rate this domain highly with respect to the science and technology criterion. Although further scientific research is required to determine how SE technology can best be utilized in K-12 education, it is believed that other application domains are likely to play a more important role in driving SE technology. If the relevant infrastructure undergoes changes that greatly facilitate widespread and in-depth use of technology within this area, then priority for the education domain would be indicated.

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