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The National Goal
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Improving the U.S. Position in International Industrial Competitiveness GEORGE A. KEYWORTH II People who have heard me speak on the subject of the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Centers program know how strong my commitment to the concept is, and how much I look forward to the testing of the concept that is beginning now. The people connected with the first six Centers are to be congratulated. The good news is that they have survived what may have been the toughest grant competition in the NSF's history. The bad news is that they now have to do all those things they promised in the proposals. Actually, I would be disappointed if their new experiences didn't force them to diverge from those plans very quickly, because they are traveling where no one has gone before. They are trying to adapt institutions steeped in tradition to rapid changes in the world of science and technology and in the way those changes are transferred to industry. They are going to have to learn and teach the rest of us as they progress. As someone with a deep interest in the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), I will try to describe the Centers in the broader context of Amer- ican industrial competitiveness and of the kinds of resources we have to mobilize to be successful. To set the stage, I want to share a recent experience. The occasion was a conference of delegations from two dozen economically advanced nations who were invited to Venice by the Italian prime minister to discuss the relationship between technology and em- ployment. The event was spurred in part by the growing divergence be- tween the economies of Europe and those of countries, like the United States and Japan, that have been aggressive in taking advantage of new technologies. The European nations have struggled just to maintain the 11
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12 IMPROVING THE U.S. POSITION same number of jobs for nearly 15 years. During that same time in the United States we have created 26 million new jobs. Not surprisingly, then, most of Europe today is faced with massive unemployment, with problems so severe that some countries now talk about entire generations of young people who will never find jobs. One would have expected the European nations to be curious, if not eager, to learn from dynamic economies elsewhere. Yet I came away from that conference very disturbed by what I interpreted as an ingrained re- sistance to change among many of the European leaders who were there. I was amazed at the number of European officials who proposed that the way to create jobs was to shorten the workweek so that four people might be able to do the work of three. That's hardly what I would call innovation. Others insisted that their high priorities were to provide either what they called "humane" employment, accommodating the life-styles to which the workers have become accustomed, or guaranteed financial support for a comfortable life of unemployment. While they all seem to understand the need to use technology to develop new industries and modernize old ones, when it came to considering actions many of them saw technology as a threat rather than an opportunity. In the true "Europessimist" sense, they could see only the possibility of jobs being eliminated by new tech- nology and productivity improvements, never the jobs that would be cre- ated. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite words, "competitiveness," rarely crept into the discussion; it was as if competition simply were not an element of the industrial world. As we know, competitiveness is a key word where economies are growing. One of the points I tried to make at the conference was that neither world nor domestic trade is a zero-sum game. Technological ad- vances, by increasing the productivity of both labor and resources, create and enlarge markets. In other words, it is not simply a matter of cutting the pie differently; technological advances can make the pie larger. To illustrate this point I cited the example of the personal computer. Just four years ago the market for personal computers was still fairly small. Since then IBM has entered the market, and IBM alone will sell almost $7 billion in personal computers worldwide this year. Yet more than half the parts in the IBM PC are manufactured in other countries and imported to the United States. So in spite of how unexceptional those transactions may appear in light of trade balances, all the countries whose industries are involved in the new enterprise benefit from expanded employment. I may not have made many new friends when I pointed out to the Europeans that it looks odd for them, with their strong industrial, tech- nological, and educational bases, to be wringing their hands in dismay while at the same time newly industrializing nations, especially in the Far East, are building new technology infrastructures from scratch and be
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GEORGE A. KEYWORTH II 13 coming formidable competitors in carefully chosen niches of the world's industrial market. Considering these emerging industries, such as Korean steel, Taiwanese electronics, and Indonesian aircraft, it is beyond me how already well-established European (or American) industries, with their expertise and experience, can argue that they operate at a competitive disadvantage. This is the argument we would expect from countries trying to break into a market strongly dominated by established industrial nations. The lesson I would draw from these observations is that the most important determinant of industrial success these days is a willingness to grasp the opportunities offered by changing technology. I would add that even strong national R&D commitments, as necessary as they are, must still be supplemented by competitive spirit. I would have been even more depressed at the contrast between Europe and United States in 1985 if I had not reminded myself that societies can become energized with a desire to change and to compete. In the United States we have certainly responded positively to the industrial and tech- nological challenges of the past generation. Admittedly, at the start of this decade we suffered some confusion over the nature of our new compe- tition. Our experience of relatively easy market domination in the past had not prepared us for our new role. This experience, I'm convinced, will also be positive in the long run, because it is forcing us to reexamine and reaffirm the principles of our economy, and it is forcing us to recognize how much we had dulled our initiative by taking our industrial strengths for granted. Today we not only have a more realistic view of our competition; we also have a more realistic view of our significant capacity to compete. To the extent that one can characterize a national mood, I would say that the American people and American industry are more optimistic today than they've been in years, and that they are looking forward to a healthy economic future. One example is worth sharing. In March 1985, at a small lunch that President Reagan had with some leaders of American high technology, one of the guests reached into his pocket and pulled out a wafer just off a new manufacturing production line for 1-megabit RAM chips. In dis- playing the chip this guest was making two points. First, he reminded us that only four years ago many people were ready to dismiss American manufacturing of RAM chips because the Japanese had presumably cap- tured the future markets with their then-advanced 64K RAMs. The guest wanted to remind us that listening to pessimists can be very bad business practice. Fortunately, his company and others had confidence in their abilities and, clearly, had bounced back. This man was also pointing out the tremendous rate of growth in one particular kind of microelectronics technology. In less than a decade we went from 2 kilobits to 1 megabit. The 4-megabit chip isn't far over the
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14 IMPROVING THE U.S. POSITION horizon, and I expect to see a 64-megabit chip within my own working lifetime. However, I don't think there is anyone who knows how we are going to use memory devices of that incredible capacity. In fact, the big chips that industry is producing are already stimulating us to rethink the ways we process and use information, leading us right back to basic research. As a result of these industrial advances, we are now investigating entirely new kinds of computing and data-processing technologies. Aca- demic researchers are already beginning to explore the new computer architectures, software, and mathematics that these industrial advances point to. Today's computer, which has been evolving for four decades, may become a thing of the past. Meanwhile, the rate of change in these areas is breaking down traditional barriers between industry and basic research laboratories barriers that have impeded progress for too long. This removal of barriers lies at the heart of the new Engineering Research Centers. A few months ago the President's Commission on Industrial Compet- itiveness completed its 18-month-long analysis of what we have to do as a nation to enable our industries to compete effectively in world markets. One of the points I found especially interesting was the conclusion by this group, which was composed primarily of industrial leaders, that the United States has only two competitive advantages in today' s international market of low-cost labor, overvalued dollars, high interest rates, and Byzantine trade regulations. Those two advantages are our scientific and technical knowledge base and our talent base. While the conclusion that knowledge and talent are important American industrial advantages is hardly surprising, I think that all of us on the Commission were surprised to find that they were of such paramount importance. As a consequence, one of the Commission's major conclu- sions was to endorse the strong and increasing commitment to R&D over the past five years by both industry and the federal government; in addition, the Commission urged creation of "a solid foundation of science and technology that is relevant to commercial uses." This sounds very much like the point of the Engineering Research Centers. The ERCs may be a preview of new mechanisms to take advan- tage of the changing relationships between the laboratory and the factory. Over the next few years the ERCs will be helping us to learn a lot about how to improve something we have never paid too much attention to before: the ways universities and industry can cooperate-not just to speed the flow of new knowledge into applications, although that is a major objective, but also to encourage universities to take advantage of industrial expertise in thinking about academic research directions and educational . . O Electives.
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GEORGE A. KEYWORTH II 15 Over the past few years many people have concluded that notwithstand- ing the remarkable successes of American universities in advancing knowl- edge in science, their structure is not as well suited to the challenges posed by today's industrial opportunities. The narrow approach to research, in which studies are generally confined to highly specialized subdisciplines, needs to be joined with broader perspectives. The overwhelming response of the universities themselves to this new program there were proposals from virtually every engineering and re- search university in the country reveals what I can only interpret as tremendous enthusiasm for breaking out of some of the old molds of education and research, an impression intensified by my observation of the many people present at the symposium. The establishment of what are in effect campus institutes where academic and industrial scientists and engineers can work together on the kinds of technical problems now being generated by modern industry may mark a new path for science and engineering education and research. One of the most important products of the ERCs will be the students, who will emerge with the broad technical skills that will be needed in tomorrow's industrial world. To industrial representatives interested in the Centers I can offer as- surances, on behalf of the President and his budget advisers, that they will be welcomed as financial partners in this enterprise. But in all seri- ousness, what is far more important is the enthusiasm of industrialists, their participation, and their commitment to having an impact on how these Centers evolve. To appreciate why this is important we should consider the origins of the Centers. The idea surfaced in a presentation to my office on the subject of computers in design and manufacturing, made by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP).* The presentation brought home to all of us how radically the role of the engineer will change in light of the tremendous information-processing capabilities that are emerging, such as that 1-megabit RAM chip. We realized, too, that the example of information technology, while perhaps the best known, was only one of many rapidly changing fields that will change engineering. After that presentation we were convinced that we should be doing more to help integrate engineering practice and training with these new areas of technology and science, and that our future industrial successes were going to depend on the availability of different kinds of engineers than Hose who had been successful in the past. We turned to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), which quickly assembled a group to *COSEPUP is a joint committee of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.
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16 IMPROVING THE U.S. POSITION suggest new mechanisms through which the National Science Foundation and universities could respond. In both the COSEPUP panel and the NAE group engineers from industry were full and eager participants. The pro- gram that emerged has been strongly influenced by industry, so the Centers should be prepared for fruitful interactions there. This program is a superb example of what we can do together. Some of the general goals guiding government actions to capitalize on our knowl- edge and talent can be briefly summarized. First, over the past four years our government has reversed its priorities in order to support the generation of knowledge and talent, rather than the development of specific technologies. Government does not have the ability to guide the development of competitive new industrial technolo- gies. It simply cannot respond rapidly enough to change. Industry itself is far better prepared to make the necessary decisions, and also to make the necessary investments in new technologies to meet demands. On the other hand, support for basic research and for training students is properly the government's responsibility, because both those efforts build the knowledge and talent base. In 1981 technology development claimed the largest fraction of U.S. government support for research and development, while support for basic research had the smallest fraction. By 1984 those priorities had been reversed-the result of a nearly 60 percent rise in government funding for basic research from 1981 to 1985. Even though federal budgets have been tightly constrained, we never considered it a luxury to allocate re- sources to such fields as mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and the biological sciences. These investments in pioneering research will lead to tomorrow's new technologies and to tomorrow's economic strength. Second, we believe government has a responsibility to help universities create the environment needed to be in the forefront of basic research and the education of new technical talent. Our challenge today, reflected in the new Engineering Research Centers, is to sustain creativity and inno- vation while reducing the barriers between the pursuit of knowledge and the pursuit of productivity. One major step we have taken to meet this challenge has been to provide such large increases in government support for basic research in univer- sities. We have also increased funding to replace outdated research equip- ment, improved the access of university researchers and their students to supercomputers, and, together with industry, created special programs to attract the best young engineers and scientists to teaching and research . . . . careers In universities. I have already discussed government's third major responsibility: find- ing better ways to stimulate the flow of ideas, expertise, and people among our extensive government research laboratories, the universities, and in
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GEORGE A. KEYWORTH II 17 dustry. Arrangements like the ERCs are good examples of how we can do that. Finally, the fourth goal of government for science and technology is to be more alert to emerging technological opportunities and to make sure that we develop the best knowledge and talent base for industry to draw on. In the past our government has not always paid sufficient attention to the opportunities for doing this, and some opportunities have been lost. Lost opportunities in today's highly competitive world can be very ex- pensive. For example, over the years our federal government has spent billions of dollars on the molecular biology that made possible today's biotechnology industry. But by focusing so intently on medical applica- tions we may be failing to develop similarly far-reaching applications in agriculture, and even in manufacturing. In the United States, as in many other countries, there is a real danger of letting others assume industrial leadership in profitable new fields of technology, even though we have a head start through immense investments in the research which has estab- lished those fields. Returning to my earlier anecdote, I wish I could have transported my fellow delegates from Venice to the ERC symposium. I think they would have seen and appreciated the kinds of attitudes and kinds of steps one has to take to create an atmosphere for industrial competition and for economic growth. A second anecdote, which may be well known, is nevertheless worth repeating. Recently David Packard, a man I consider to be one of our great Americans, observed to me that there are some very close parallels between success in industry and success in professional sports. He said that three factors determine these successes. One is the technical skills of individuals. Nevertheless, basic skills are essentially evenly distributed among teams, as they are among competing companies. So the other two factors make the difference in the outcome of competition. One is the individuals' zeal to win, and the other is how well they work together as a team. Few people have shown more successfully than he how those traits can be mobilized in industry, so I'm inclined to take his observation seriously. Happily, in the past few years we have seen a strong rejuvenation of that zeal to win in America, a reaction to the international pressures that we have felt on all sides. My object in relating this story is to reinforce two points. First, we cannot play the industrial game unless we have the technical skills and the zeal to surpass our competitors, and that brings us back again to the need for a strong basic research environment, the spawning ground for ideas and talent. Second, we need better teamwork. We need to continue building cooperation and broad support for science and technology not just between the administration and the Congress, but between academia
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18 IMPROVING THE U.S. POSITION and industry too with all accepting responsibility for making sure we nurture those technical skills and translate them into practice. We have an exciting opportunity before us in the Engineering Research Centers. I want to put on record my strong support for what is being attempted. I hope to have opportunities over the next few years to follow their progress and celebrate their success. DISCUSSION A number of symposium participants from universities and industry asked questions relating to international competitiveness and the role of the ERCs. Regarding the intensification and expansion of Japan's activity in the semiconductor field, Dr. Keyworth expressed optimism about the future of American industry. Far from ignoring Japanese competition, he said, "America is rising to the competition in a very powerful and vital manner." Although capital costs and other factors will remain troublesome for the United States, technology and talent are two areas where we continue to lead. With regard to the obstructive business practices and attitudes toward R&D and competitiveness that prevail among many of our European allies, Dr. Keyworth was confident that the situation in the United States is much healthier. In particular, he noted that the extent and scope of the public debate on these issues is valuable and reassuring. One questioner drew a comparison between the ERCs and the national laboratories. Dr. Keyworth pointed out that while the similarities are strong, the national laboratories have been concerned with meeting gov- ernment requirements. He observed that the educational function of the ERCs and their location at universities gives them a different and perhaps more fundamental role. Asked to project future funding levels and numbers of ERCs, Dr. Key- worth made several notable comments. He predicted that the current budget appropriation (for FY 1986) will be the difficult one for the ERCs to weather, but that beyond that "we are going to see monumental growth in them . . . we will be seeing units that exceed doubling for some time to come." Based on the demand for such Centers, as evidenced by the number and quality of proposals, Dr. Keyworth said he "would be very surprised if we didn't see the Engineering Research Centers become some- thing on the order of 10 percent of the National Science Foundation [budget] in a very short period of time." He expressed his belief that the concept of a joint university-industry multidisciplinary research institute is long overdue, and that it will spread beyond the NSF to other agencies. Thus, he said, "I refuse to accept 20 [Centers] as any kind of a top."
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Engineering Research and International Competitiveness ROLAND W. SCHMITT I believe that the main way in which engineering research and education can contribute to the international competitive position of the United States is by bridging and shortening the gap between the generation of knowledge and its application in the marketplace. Today fundamental scientific knowledge is one of our most effective foes of foreign aid. Unfortunately, it happens to be foreign aid for our rivals most notably the Japanese. They appreciate our research efforts so much that their industries spend two-and-a-half times as much money funding university and nonprofit research laboratories outside their na- tion mainly in the United States as they spend on such laboratories within their own country. And Japan pays us nearly a billion dollars more for patent licenses and other forms of technology import than we pay them. That favorable balance of trade in intellectual property more than doubled in the 1970s, the decade when all other balance-of-payment fig- ures with Japan were moving in the opposite direction. Those numbers challenge an assumption that many of us make auto- matically, which is that the answer to the problem of international com- petitiveness is to do more and more of our own research. But Japan's experience shows that it is possible to succeed in international technolog- ical competition while relying on others for fundamental knowledge and for really new ideas. Obviously the Japanese example should not cause us to rush off and blindly imitate their methods. But it should cause us to question our accepted ideas about the relation of research to international competitive strength. That questioning could have a variety of outcomes. 19
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24 ENGINEERING RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS is a gap between the apprenticeship of potential engineering researchers and the role they will eventually fill. The Engineering Research Centers have been designed to bridge those gaps. However, the notion of bridge- building should not be interpreted in too limited a way. The principal features of the Centers are often described as (1) industrial support, (2) interdisciplinary scope, and (3) research aimed at utility. Those de- scriptions are correct, but they are too narrow. They miss the essence. Bridging Gaps Between Universities and Industry First, the bridge established between universities and industry should carry much more than money. As one university president put it, "Don't just send us your money; send us your people who understand the critical problems. Just sending money is not enough." Sending problems does not mean sending applied research problems. The idea is not to create Centers that are, in effect, job shops for industry. The research at the Centers should be fundamental research in the areas of engineering practice being taken on by industry that is to say, its aim is not building robots for factories, but generating new understanding of the fundamentals of robotic vision, touch, and control; not programming expert systems for use in diagnostics or repair, but generating new un- derstanding of knowledge representation, search and logic programming techniques, heuristics, analogies, causality, and the other fundamentals of artificial intelligence; not building biotechnology production facilities, but developing unit operations concepts for biological processes. The goal of industry-university interaction should be the establishment of a two-way flow of information. From industry to universities should flow an understanding of the barrier problems that practice is running up against. From universities to industry should flow the knowledge and talent needed to overcome the fundamental problems. The main point is not to drive universities away from fundamental research, but to orient them toward the areas of fundamental research that are most needed by industry. Bridging Gaps Among Engineering Disciplines Another important feature of the Engineering Research Centers is their cross-disciplinary nature. But here again one should not tale a narrow view. This is not just another interdisciplinary program; such programs more often than not simply connote a collection of specialists in different disciplines sharing office space or secretarial services. We need organi- zations whose shape is dictated by the problem to be solved or the type of result needed, rather than by the disciplines involved.
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ROLAND W. SCHMIIT 25 I am under no illusions about the difficulty that this entails. What we are really talking about is a clash of cultures: the problem-solving culture of engineering practice versus the disciplinary culture of engineering sci- ence. There will be resistance to change and suspicion of change, just as there always is whenever cultures clash. However, in my view such an interaction of cultures does not weaken the disciplinary base; on the contrary, it strengthens it. Programs that transcend disciplines can enhance disciplinary research by revitalizing established fields and creating new ones. This is an area in which industrial research and defense research, both of which inherently transcend disci- plines, have led the way. Look, for example, at the role of a one-man interdisciplinary project named Irving Langmuir and his enormous con- tributions to surface chemistry and plasma physics, as well as to the invention of better light bulbs and electronic tubes. Look at the contri- butions of interdisciplinary teams at Bell Laboratories to the solid-state sciences. And look at the revitalizing effect that highly goal-directed, interdisciplinary World War II programs, such as the ones at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, had on physics when the participants took their new-found electronics skills back to their laboratories and started applying them to nuclear magnetic resonance, high-energy physics, and radio as- tronomy. These examples illustrate my point: we should not be concerned that traditional disciplinary research structures will be replaced by a new kind of interdisciplinary work done at Engineering Research Centers. Instead, we will see the emergence of new ways of doing research that will enrich strong disciplines, revitalize dormant ones, and create some new ones. Bridging Gaps Within the Innovation Process Finally, and most difficult of all, we must not take too narrow a view of the relation of engineering research to innovation. Instead we must seek to embed engineering research in the total process of innovation a pro- cess that extends from identifying the market all the way through pro- duction, quality control, maintenance, and improvement of the first product into a real winner. These parts of the innovation process cannot be separated into watertight compartments. The separation of marketing and engineering has killed many promising innovations in their early stages. Typically, the marketing people do not know enough about the future possibilities of the technology to ask the right questions of the users, and the technologists do not know enough about the users to ask the right questions of the technology. The separation of engineering and manufacturing can be just as fatal. Typically,
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26 ENGINEERING RESEARCH AND INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS the engineer knows too little about the possible ways the product might be manufactured to ask the right questions about the design, and the manufacturing manager knows too little about the reasons behind the design to ask the right questions about the production process. As total-process awareness is built into the work of the Engineering Research Centers it should reflect the spirit of an experiment carried out by the late George Low, who was a prophet and pioneer of the Engineering Research Center concept. George liked to tell about a teaching program at his school, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), involving composite materials. To train engineers, he believed, it was not enough just to expose them to course work in the classroom and the laboratory; they also had to experience the frustration and the excitement of putting advanced tech- nology to work. In one particular project the students conceived of a product a glider made of new composite materials-and then immersed themselves in all the difficulties involved in "getting a product out the back door." For the final exam they were apparently required to test-fly the glider themselves! Fortunately, the glider flew. And so should the idea behind it. The Engineering Research Centers should accustom students to the idea that the engineer does research in order to do' not merely in order to know. SUMMARY The most effective way for us to employ our national R&D effort to improve the nation's international competitiveness is by narrowing the gap between the generation of knowledge and the use of knowledge. The place where the United States can gain additional advantage over our world competitors is the middle ground between scientific research and engineering-the domain of engineering research. In the past we have relied on chance to produce engineering researchers, and have made no concerted effort to create institutions deliberately designed to have the primary focus on engineering research. We are now designing such in- stitutions. We should design them to create links with industry that carry not only money, but also the practical barrier problems that inspire re- search. They should be fashioned so as to be not merely interdisciplinary, but problem-oriented in a way that transcends disciplines. And finally, they should be fashioned so as to imbue students and perhaps even professors with an understanding of the true role of research within the entire process of innovation. DISCUSSION Two questions from the audience suggested that problems of the com- petitiveness of U.S. engineering are at least partly a result of shortcomings
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ROLAND W. SCHMITT 27 of industry. In answering, Dr. Schmitt expressed his belief that industry should not attempt to restrict publication and ownership of the results of research that it funds, and that the best way to gain commercial advantage from fundamental research is to be in a position to exploit it rapidly. He disagreed with the assertion that industry generally has trouble under- standing and interacting with university researchers, or capitalizing on research with potential long-term relevance. At least in the case of large corporate laboratories this is certainly not true, he said. To the suggestion that some ERCs might be located outside universities, he countered that universities must be the site of all Centers and that the point of the ERCs is to foster the cross-disciplinary approach in engineering research at universities. The focus on the problem rather than the discipline can be instrumental in stimulating inventiveness within the culture of the university.
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Science and Engineering: A Continuum ERICH BLOCH The complexity of the relations among science, engineering, and tech- nology, and particularly the dependence of science on advances in engi- neering, are not well understood by scientists or by most engineers. Science, engineering, and technology are three different spheres of activ- ity, each with its own perspective and dynamics, yet together they should be seen as a whole, a system. Progress in each contributes to, and depends on, progress in the others. Consider first the fundamental differences among these three areas of activity: · There are many definitions of science, but for my present purpose I use a simple one: Science is the process of investigating phenomena. This process leads to a body of knowledge consisting of theory, concepts, methods, and a set of results. · Engineering is the process of investigating how to solve problems. This process leads to a body of engineering knowledge consisting of concepts, methods, data bases, and, frequently, physical expressions of results such as inventions, products, and designs. · Technological innovation is the process that leads to more effective production and delivery of a new or significantly modified goods or ser- vice. This process also creates a body of concepts, techniques, and data. Some scientists believe that discoveries flowing from their work drive engineering and technology. This is true enough in many cases, but ad- vances in engineering and technology also drive science. The "straight line" conceptual model with progress passing from science through 28
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ERICH BLOCH 29 engineering to technology-is not only far too simple to describe the complex interactions, it is simply incorrect. Instead, we should think of a triangular model with science, engineering, and technology standing at the three corners, and vectors depicting interactions running from each of the points to the other two, always in both directions. Differences in approach and outlook sometimes keep persons in one area from fully respecting the work of persons in the other two areas and from fully appreciating how much their own work depends on those others. This gap in understanding, in approaches and languages, sometimes ap- pears almost as broad as the gulf between the literary and technological cultures that C. P. Snow talked about a quarter of a century ago. Broadly speaking, scientists press for understanding, which they express as concepts, theories, and predictions. They are fascinated by the universe and its natural or social phenomena. They push forward the frontiers of their fields by finding new ways to observe, qualify, describe, and relate that part of the universe that interests them. These are clearly intellectual and creative acts. Engineers design, invent, shape new things, make new processes, and relate concepts to solve particular problems or to uncover principles un- derlying a class of problems. They also strive to understand the phenomena they are dealing with, and attempt to develop the concepts and theories required to underpin their work. These are also intellectual and creative acts, no less so than in scientific research. Furthermore, the existence of basic engineering questions and the pur- suit of answers to them through research deny the common idea that engineering is only applied science. Some of the topics addressed by engineers are as fundamental to their fields as topics in basic science are to scientists. For example, research on the underlying principles of design theory, or on how to create new materials and use them in manufacturing, or on how to scale up biological processes all raise very fundamental issues. The developers of technology, who are frequently trained engineers or scientists although at times they are persons without much formal train- ing turn designs or ideas into products or services that can be used by many. They do this essentially by bringing to bear resources such as money, time, manufacturing capability, and talented people. Some of the designs, models, or ideas may have been around for a while before the developers of the technology combined them with other ideas. In addition, factors such as manufacturing costs, the potential market, and regulatory matters are taken into account more explicitly in technology development than in research. The scientist who truly understands these differences in approach will not look down upon engineering or technological innovation, just as the
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30 SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: A CONTINUUM research engineer or manufacturing engineer, though impatient for results, should understand that quality scientific work must follow its own dy- namics. EXAMPLES OF THE CONTINUUM The best-known examples of the flow of ideas across and among the three areas of activity are the classic cases in which advances in scientific thought did precede and drive technological developments. The work of Townes and Schawlow in inventing the maser and laser is a good case in point. The flow in this direction is the commonly accepted model. There are two primary ways in which engineering and technology drive science. First, the development of instruments has opened up whole new areas of investigation and given the scientist ever more powerful forms of observation and analysis. Second, many useful inventions have been developed without the benefit of scientific work and in fact have led to the development of principles or theory sometimes to whole new areas ~ . 0~ science. Many specialized instruments are crucial to advancing research-we all recognize how common lasers, computers, and other devices have become in the laboratory. And there are many more examples of tech- nology and engineering stimulating science than might be supposed. They can be found throughout historical times right up to the present. Some of the best-known historical examples are found in electronics, optics, and mechanics. For instance, 40 years after Volta invented the battery, Faraday finally explained how it worked. The technology of photography was worked out by artists, craftsmen, and amateurs of every sort decades before physicists and chemists understood photography's underlying principles. Perkins's work on dyes in the 1850s led to exper- iments in making flavorings and pharmaceuticals, which led in turn to the theories underlying the chemistry of phenols and aldehydes. From such beginnings much of modern physics, chemistry, and biology emerged. However, we need not look that far back to see that the exper- iments of engineers and technology developers drive advances in scientific thought. Modern examples can be found in many areas. The field of computer science not only arose in large part from attempts to build computers, but continues to owe a great deal to technologists and engineers and for that matter to thousands of amateurs who develop programs and techniques as a hobby. Twice great technological devel- opments in computers have stimulated the science of computing. The first such case occurred here and in England as part of the World War II efforts to break the German military code and to develop the atomic bomb. The
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ERICH BLOCH 31 second came with the revolutionary shift to very large scale integration, as miniaturization and related manufacturing processes brought with them many questions about what was going on at a smaller scale: the behavior of metals in thin layers; the surface interaction of silicon, polymers, and metals; and many more phenomena. Research in these areas has led and is leading to new scientific insights, theories, and discoveries. The modern information era was initiated in 1948 when Claude Shannon published two papers on a general mathematical theory of communications systems. This work was based on his attempts and those of his colleagues at Bell Laboratories to track down and control noise in telephone com- munications channels. Shannon was an electrical engineer with a doctorate in mathematics who drew on and contributed to knowledge in both fields while solving a problem of great practical interest. Since then researchers in mathematics, computer science, information science, electrical and computer engineering, and other fields have built on his work. Claude Shannon retired in 1972 after a long career at Bell Laboratories, having also been a visiting professor at MIT, and having won many honors, including the Medal of Honor of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (EKE) in 1966. I am delighted that the National Academy of Engineering recognized his work, however belatedly, by admitting him in 1984. Among other modern examples to be found in many fields of research I will cite catalysts, which have been used in many processes for some time, with little understanding until recently of the science behind them; and pharmaceuticals, some of which were used for years before neuro- biologists arrived at the modern understanding of transmitters, receptors, and blockers. To return to my main point, then: science, engineering, and technology can properly be viewed as a continuum, with ideas, techniques, and" most important of all people moving from one point to another in every direction. CROSS-DISCIPLINARY WORK AND ERCs How does this discussion of the continuum, the cross-boundary move- ment, relate to the Engineering Research Centers? I believe that when we look at the Centers in several years and evaluate their contributions we will find new and very significant examples of the flow of ideas and people back and forth across the disciplinary lines of science and engineering. Research in general is moving toward greater integration, more interaction. Where areas of research may converge, the Centers are designed to fa- cilitate that convergence.
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32 SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: ACO=INUUM Such convergence is occurring not only among engineering disciplines, but among scientific disciplines and between fields of science and engi- neer~ng: · Biotechnology is rapidly developing as a field, but defining what it encompasses is not easy: several fields of biology, plus chemistry, chem- ical engineering, and physics, at least. Their interaction demands a new breed of engineers (or are they scientists?) who can synthesize ideas from, and speak the languages of, these diverse disciplines. · Materials research is another combination of several fields of science and engineering: solid-state chemistry and physics, condensed-matter theory, metallurgy, ceramics, and polymers are some of them. · Some areas of computer science and computer engineering are so closely allied that their boundaries are difficult to perceive. These fields are in turn contributing to and being stimulated by-work in manufac- turing systems, automation, design theory, artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, and even bioengineering. As the National Research Council's 1985 Outlook on Science and Tech- nology points out, the fact that researchers from different disciplines are working together on common problems is not new, but the breadth of their work together is new and so is its importance. Collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries, if it is to work in academia, needs strong nurturing and will require flexibility in attitudes as well as new organizational forms. In my view collaboration should not be seen as a threat to traditional disciplines, as some people fear it to be. Work in individual fields will progress in large part on the basis of discoveries made through work in other fields, and as techniques and new instruments move from one field to another. Continuing disciplinary strength is needed as well as continuing cross-disciplinary strength. The threat I see is that university researchers do not readily understand or accept the need for cross-disciplinary work or for organizations that provide the opportunity to do such work. Besides the involvement of scientists and engineers from many disci- plines, the Centers have three other attributes that will cause their results to be widely diffused. The first is the Centers' emphasis on involving other academic institutions as affiliates. The second is their emphasis on building links with industry. The third is their emphasis on improving the teaching and practice of engineering. With regard to involving other institutions, a college or university unable to develop and house its own ERC can become an affiliate of one. The institutions could exchange faculty members and students, and they might establish computer and video links. The resulting Center with its affiliates
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ERICH BLOCH 33 might be an even more productive entity, able to build on the strengths of all its components. Affiliations can occur in many ways: institutions can submit joint pro- posals, as did two of the six new Centers (Maryland with Harvard, and Delaware with Rutgers); or schools sharing the geographical or topical area of a Center may join with it. I hope that as the Centers become established we will see more of this kind of cooperation and interaction. The Centers must develop industrial partners, as experience has shown. The firms that get involved will benefit greatly from access to talented students as well as the new knowledge from research. The university researchers and students will be equally stimulated by the exchange of ideas with their industry counterparts. As the National Academy of Engineering's 1984 report on the Centers states, each Center must assume a broad role in engineering education at all levels.* This role entails explicit efforts to codify new knowledge and to bring it to the classroom. Rebuilding the base of engineering education through modernizing teaching materials, recognizing and train- ing teachers, and giving students the experience of participating in research is one of the most important outcomes that we can expect of the Centers. All of us who have worked on the ERC program have very high ex- pectations for the Centers. The Center directors and the people who will work with them face some very difficult and interesting challenges. Quality, not quantity, will be our guide in establishing the Centers. Finally, those universities whose excellent proposals could not be funded because of budgetary restrictions should be urged to work with industry and with state and local governments to start Centers on their own, or to propose a Center to another government agency. The ideas in these papers can be used to improve proposals, regardless of whether they are eventually submitted to the NSF. The nation and its research enterprise will be served well by having successful and productive Engineering Research Centers, whatever the source of their funding. DISCUSSION Questions to Mr. Bloch focused mainly on the need for new attitudes toward and greater support for engineering. To a question regarding the relative funding for science and engineering within the NSF, Mr. Bloch replied that engineering had received one of the largest percentage in- creases in the Foundation's FY 1986 budget. He pointed out, however, that equality in dollars is not a good yardstick for comparison. Engineering differs from science in a number of ways, one being that it is closer to *Guidelines for Engineering Research Centers (1983).
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34 SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: A CONTINUUM industry and can therefore expect industry to contribute to its support. Viewed in this light, the NSF is really a "leveraging point" for federal dollars; both the ERCs and the Presidential Young Investigator Awards are examples of programs that leverage federal support for engineering by encouraging industry support. Mr. Bloch agreed with an observation that engineering education has lacked the practical, apprenticeship aspect because overall support for research and teaching has been limited and engineering has not been given high priority. He noted that the ERCs, as well as cooperative and joint research endeavors among various industries and with universities, are evidence of a "change in the cultures" of government, industry, and academia with regard to engineering.
Representative terms from entire chapter: