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Summary The symposium titled "The Engineering Research Centers: Factors Affecting Their Thrusts" was held on April 29-30, 1985, under the auspices of the National Research Council's Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems (CETS). The two-day event drew more than 400 representatives of academe, industry, and government to hear speakers describe the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), the concept behind them, and their importance to the nation's future. Discussion was en- couraged, so the symposium became the forum for a lively interchange of ideas about the Centers and, indeed, about the present and future status of the engineering research and development enterprise in the United States. (The discussion that followed each presentation is summarized in this symposium volume immediately after each paper.) The first session opened in the afternoon with a series of presentations describing the national goals that the ERCs represent. George A. Keyworth II, Science Adviser to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, gave the keynote address. He and other leaders in government discussed the relation of the Centers, and of engineering research in general, to international industrial competitiveness. Mr. Erich Bloch, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), described the continuity that exists between science, engineering, and technology, and which must be more widely accepted if the nation's economy is to benefit from a strong industrial competitiveness across a broad front. The next group of speakers spoke of the ERCs from the point of view of the NSF the concept behind them, their goals, selection criteria ap- plied in the first round of awards, and mechanisms for support of the

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2 SUMMARY current and future Centers. Symposium participants representing univer- sities with an interest in hosting ERCs of their own were especially at- tentive to this portion of the program; they asked a large number of questions relating to the review process for future selection cycles. The following morning the symposium reconvened to hear presentations by each of the new Center directors of the programs they plan to introduce to meet the Centers' goals. The varied programs for research, education, and industrial liaison were of central interest; these were impressive in scope and in creative initiative. Tentative ideas regarding the establishment of mechanisms for the exchange of information and technology among the ERCs and their respective research communities were also presented. Because the educational function of the Centers is as important as their research function, a view of the relationship between these two functions in the context of modern engineering was expressed by the chairman of a National Research Council committee that had just concluded a study of the subject. The final session of the symposium entailed a look at the future of U. S. industry and engineering from the standpoint of challenges that will have to be met and expectations that the ERCs will be called on to fulfill. Speakers outlined the roles that the Centers can play in aiding and stim- ulating mature industries (e.g., the automotive industry), growth industries (e.g., electronics and computers), and emerging industries (such as bio- technology). They stressed that this bold new approach to engineering research and education carries with it a range of new responsibilities not only for academe, but just as important for industry and government. Each of these traditionally separate sectors will be challenged to cooperate in the nurturing and support of the ERCs, a fact which the final group of speakers emphasized. The predominant message that emerged from the symposium is that this is the beginning of a new era, in terms of world technological and economic dynamics and in terms of the roles of engineering practice and research. The ERCs are among the first deliberate responses the nation has made to that changing environment: new engineering institutions designed for the new era. The goal of the program is "to develop fundamental knowl- edge in engineering fields that will enhance the international competi- tiveness of U.S. industry and prepare engineers to contribute more effectively through better engineering practice." The explicitly economic and prac- tical nature of that goal is in itself a novel feature, and one that is likely to be seen more and more often in the future. The 6 ERCs introduced at the symposium are only the first contingent of what the NSF expects eventually to grow to some 20 Centers, each with an average annual budget of $2-$5 million. And, as was noted by

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SUMMARY - both Erich Bloch and George Keyworth, other agencies of government besides the NSF are interested in pursuing the ERC concept. George Keyworth expressed his belief that the ERCs might well come to represent "something on the order of 10 percent of the entire National Science Foundation budget in a very short period of time." Given the likely participation of other agencies, he pointed out, the total number of such centers could very quickly exceed the anticipated 20. The existence of a large number of Centers, focusing on different areas of engineering research, will require a broad base of support. In the case of the ERCs, NSF support is not envisioned as permanent, but as start- up funding. The awards will be made as continuing grants for an initial duration of five years. During that time the Centers are expected to have established a strong network of relationships with industry, and to have obtained substantial industrial support. In this way, where feasible, the Centers should eventually become self-sufficient, requiring no further NSF support. Such a goal clearly places several requirements upon the ERCs. First, they must be sure to establish the kind of industrial liaison programs that will lead to continuous and mutually beneficial interactions. The plans and programs described by the six Center directors are a good start in this direction. Second, the ERCs must produce high-quality research, the results of which are useful to industry without being too near-term in focus. As Roland W. Schmitt characterized the Centers, they will bridge the gap between the generation of knowledge and its application to the market- place. "From industry . . . should flow . . . the barrier problems that practice is running up against. From universities . . . should flow the knowledge and talent needed to overcome the fundamental problems." To that end Susan Hackwood, Director of the new Center for Robotic Systems in Microelectronics at the University of California at Santa Bar- bara, envisions a procedure in which researchers at the Center will "go from the specific to the general, doing applications first and gaining fun- damental knowledge later." Third, the ERCs must attain self-sufficiency by performing their edu- cational function well. If they can attract top students, both graduate and undergraduate, and inculcate in them a broad understanding of what is needed to bring sophisticated products all the way from the laboratory to market, the graduates of the Centers will become a most effective form of advertisement for the cross-disciplinary ERC approach to research. What can industry do, for its part, to ensure the success of the ERCs? As James Lardner of Deere and Company puts it, industry must: help identify and define manufacturing research needs that offer in

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4 SUMMARY tellectual challenges to the academic community that are commensurate with established research activities; make available selected, experienced industry representatives to sup- port research projects; be willing to provide constructive input for program evaluation and to make recommendations to enhance the value of the research findings . . . the Centers produce; recognize, hire, and reward the graduates of the Centers, offering opportunities commensurate with their potential. A basic requirement is for industry to be aware of the activities of the Centers. Participation in the exchange networks described by NSF's Carl Hall would be a simple and effective means to maintain such an awareness. In general, industry managers can help the ERCs attain their goals by being open to the opportunity they represent that is, by avoiding the pressure for near-term results, by not being restrictive in the approach to joint research and the publication of results, and by taking advantage of the continuing educational possibilities they will afford. Perhaps the greatest adjustment will be required by universities that host the ERCs. As Semiconductor Research Corporation president Larry Sumney noted, universities are structured around discipline-oriented de- partments. The cross-disciplinary environment of the Centers runs counter to this traditional structure, and the effect on a faculty member's status and career can be severe if the ERC is not accepted and integrated within the university's culture. H. Guyford Stever emphasized the need for changes in this "campus sociology" if the ERCs are not to be rendered vulnerable. Strong commitment on the part of university administrators, faculty, and graduate students alike will be essential. To achieve that degree of com- mitment the universities will have to become sensitive to the nation's economic and competitive needs, and recognize that engineering is the key to fulfilling those needs. Government also has major responsibilities in this regard, as outlined by Nam Sub, Assistant Director for Engineering at the NSF. Apart from its role as the investment organization, or catalyst, the NSF is also the enabling agent that will help the ERCs overcome problems and achieve their goals. It will also be the NSF's responsibility to secure the continuing support of the Congress and other government entities for the ERCs and the concept they represent. In addition, the NSF plans to encourage state governments to provide joint or independent funding for ERCs or similar research organizations. Nam Sub notes, however, that "in the final anal- ysis no government can be greater than the people it represents," so the willing support of the engineering community in academe and industry will be the real key to the continuing support of the ERCs.

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SUMMARY 5 What is the likely outcome if the ERCs are successful? What advances or changes are we likely to see in research, in engineering education, and-perhaps most crucial in the health of our industries? Several speak- ers gave their views, their visions, of what the results might be. Nam Sub hopes that the ERCs "will come up with concepts and ideas that, 20 years from now, can change the way we live, the way we function, and the way we produce goods." He believes that the ERCs have the potential to create for engineering a climate of discovery similar to that which appeared in physics at universities throughout Western Europe in the early part of this century an "exciting cultural environment which will create new intellectual frontiers and many important breakthroughs." The changes in engineering education are likely to be substantial for participating students. Roland Schmitt pointed out that it has been difficult for a student to acquire both the needed scientific knowledge and the apprenticeship aspects of education. Unlike education in the sciences, it is rare for engineering graduate students to be trained in the type of facilities they will encounter in industry. And engineering is the only profession in which teachers are not, by and large, experienced practitioners. Jerrier Haddad believes that the ERCs will go a long way toward changing this situation. For one thing, the closer contact of academic researchers with industry problems and methods will make them better teachers. More fundamentally, however, participation of students in ERC research pro- grams will be a form of interning. It will introduce the missing element of practice, conferring practical values, greater interest in the work, and stronger personal development as well. Clearly the real focus of the ERC concept, from the standpoint of both research and education, is the improvement of our national industrial competitiveness. If the ERCs can provide a strong link between academe and industry, research and development, education and practice, they can vastly improve the effectiveness with which we apply our rich national resources of knowledge and talent. If they can bridge the traditional en- gineering disciplines they can be the catalyst for a needed reshaping of research approaches and values, in universities as well as in industrial manufacturing practices. As George Keyworth observed in his keynote address, "This removal of barriers lies at the heart of the new Engineering Research Centers." It will be necessary that everyone those in academe, in industry, and in government-understand why those barriers must come down, and that all work with a will to help the ERCs succeed.

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Introduction H. GUYFORD STEVER This symposium marked the beginning of a brave new venture in Amer- ican technological enterprise. For those who have participated in their making, the Engineering Research Centers have been eagerly awaited. For a few dedicated individuals who long ago saw the need for a new approach to engineering research, education, and practice, this is a venture that has been long in the making. Some 300 members of the engineering community attended the sym- posium to share the excitement of the ideas embodied in the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs). In their papers leaders of the business and academic communities and leaders in government describe the difference that this new concept will make, the opportunity that the Centers present. They describe the roots of the ERC concept and program, the effort, energy, and ideas that went into their creation. The directors of the new Centers and others discuss their plans for making the Centers strong and successful. We read of challenges that the future will present to U.S. industry, as well as to the Centers themselves. And we are confronted, in turn, with the challenges that the Centers present to industry, academe, and government if they are to become an effective instrument for keeping the nation technologically strong and vibrant in the uncertain years ahead. As a broader audience now begins to share in the excitement of this venture we should not lose sight of what we are about. In some ways we are attempting through the ERCs to change the system, to push engineering research and education over a threshold into a new way of doing things. So it is extremely important that we get it right from the beginning, and 6

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H. GUYFORD STEVER 7 that our purposes, goals, and expectations with regard to the ERCs be clear. The symposium was indeed a debut, and this volume is its official announcement. I hope that all who read these papers will be charged with hope, eagerness, and a sense of responsibility for the commitment to the success of the Engineering Research Centers which we must all share.

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