Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 1
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations SUMMARY This study of materials science and engineering has produced a picture of remarkable contrasts. On the one hand, the study has revealed a field of great vitality—rapidly emerging scientific discoveries, stunning new capabilities for understanding and prediction, and applications that are essential for the health of every U.S. industry. On the other hand, several troubling developments have come to light. Despite growing opportunities in the field, a shortage of educated personnel is foreseen. Limitations on resources are constraining progress. And our national effort needs greater focus and coordination in order to meet the challenge of international competition. This picture evolved as a result of the work of five panels that addressed research opportunities and needs, exploitation of materials science and engineering for the national welfare, international cooperation and competition, research resources, and education. Each of the panels submitted detailed reports to the Committee on Materials Science and Engineering. The charge to the Committee on Materials Science and Engineering was “to present a unified view of recent progress and new directions in materials science and engineering and to assess future opportunities and needs.” The committee conducted this study with a view to developing the consensus implied by the phrase “unified view.” The objective of cultivating this consensus in the very diverse materials science and engineering community was taken no less seriously than that of carrying out the scientific and engineering assessment contained in this report. The main conclusions are described in the seven chapters of this volume.
OCR for page 2
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials Chapter 1 briefly discusses the significance and development of materials science and engineering as an interdisciplinary endeavor that profoundly affects our quality of life in many ways. The potential economic and strategic impact of materials science and engineering is examined in Chapter 2 through a study of the materials needs of eight industries that collectively have sales of $1.4 trillion. Scientific and technological frontiers are explored in Chapters 3 and 4, both from the point of view of materials classes and from the point of view of the four elements of the field: synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance. It is here that several aspects of the field become apparent: rapid progress at the forefronts, an emerging sense of unity, and a critical weakness in the area of synthesis and processing of materials. Issues related to synthesis, processing, performance, instrumentation, and analysis and modeling—areas considered essential to the progress of research in materials science and engineering—are discussed in greater detail in Appendixes A to E, respectively. In Chapter 5, which describes manpower and education in materials science and engineering, a picture of the richness of the field appears—the opportunities in the field draw physicists, chemists, biologists, and materials engineers together to solve materials problems. But the committee identified a critical need for new curricula and for increased production of educated manpower from university departments involved with materials science and engineering. Again, in assessing the resource needs discussed in Chapter 6, the committee found signs of trouble. Federal programs are shrinking rather than growing, and there is a critical need for facilities in the area of synthesis and processing. Finally, the role of materials in U.S. manufacturing success and ability to compete in global markets is treated in Chapter 7. All the major industrialized nations surveyed are revealed to have a strong commitment to industrial growth, stimulated by coordinated R&D in materials; the governments of all of these countries actively foster cooperative mechanisms to enhance competitiveness. The central message of this report is a challenge both to the community of materials scientists and engineers and to policymakers: it is essential to recognize the increasingly important relationships between scientific and engineering opportunities in this field and to find new ways to coordinate academic, industrial, and governmental institutions to take better advantage of these opportunities. Federal programs have already made substantial progress toward structuring programs to deal coherently with the field of materials science and engineering as a whole. All the institutions working on materials should participate in this trend. A national weakness in synthesis and processing of materials must be remedied: there should be an emphasis on synthesis of new materials, and work on processing should stress science and technology relevant to manufacturing. New facilities and innovation in the development of new instruments for materials research are critical needs.
OCR for page 3
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials The United States enjoys a special advantage in analysis, modeling, and numerical simulation; that advantage should be exploited. Materials-based industries in the United States need to revitalize and expand their long-term R&D activities. These are some of the themes of this report; they are described in more detail in the “Conclusions” and “Recommendations” sections below. CONCLUSIONS Role of Materials in Industry Chapter 2 examines the role of materials science and engineering in eight U.S. industries that collectively employ more than 7 million people and have sales in excess of $1.4 trillion, and it summarizes the materials science and engineering needs of each of those eight industries—aerospace, automotive, biomaterials, chemical, electronics, energy, metals, and telecommunications. Several important facts emerged from the industry surveys. Within each industry, several companies were asked to indicate their materials needs; it proved to be possible to describe the needs of those companies in a given industry in generic terms. Furthermore, the lists of generic needs of the various industries had a wide overlap. Finally, industrial materials needs and problems often led scientists and engineers to the frontiers of research in search of solutions. The committee concludes: Materials science and engineering is crucial to the success of industries that are important to the strength of the U.S. economy and U.S. defense. There is considerable overlap in the generic materials problems of the eight industries studied; solutions to many of these problems lie at the forefront of research in materials science and engineering. Two pervasive elements of materials science and engineering that appeared throughout the industry surveys were (1) synthesis and processing and (2) performance of materials. The industry survey participants saw opportunities to improve the effectiveness of all the sectors involved in materials science and engineering. They saw industry as having the principal role in maintaining competitiveness. Accordingly, the committee concludes: The industry surveys revealed a serious weakness in the U.S. research effort in synthesis and processing of materials. There are opportunities for progress in areas ranging from the basic science of synthesis and processing to materials manufacturing that, if seized, will markedly increase U.S. competitiveness. Increased emphasis on performance, especially as it is affected by pro-
OCR for page 4
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials cessing, is also needed to improve U.S. industrial products for world markets. Industry has the major responsibility for maintaining the competitiveness of its products and production operations. Greater emphasis on integration of materials science and engineering with the rest of their business operations is necessary if U.S. firms are to improve their competitive positions in domestic and international competition. Incentives for top-quality people to become involved in production will have to be introduced to achieve such an emphasis. Collaboration with research efforts in universities and government laboratories can enhance the effectiveness of R&D programs too large for any one company. The objective of all of these steps would be renewed emphasis on effective long-range R&D in industry. Opportunities in Materials Science and Engineering The practitioners of materials science and engineering have much to say about the challenges and excitement of the field. More than 100 scientists and engineers from many different disciplines and institutions (e.g., universities and industry and government laboratories) participated in this study. Based on evaluation of their contributions, this committee concludes the following: The field of materials science and engineering is entering a period of unprecedented intellectual challenge and productivity. Various properties (or phenomena) that make materials interesting are discussed in Chapter 3. The open intellectual terrain ahead is apparent in each of the materials classes discussed. The structure and properties of materials are understood and are subject to control in ways that were unheard of a decade ago. For example, artificially structured materials can be built up from selected atoms one atomic layer at a time. This reality is deepening and reshaping the concept of what materials science and engineering is. A common element that links the great diversity of work in materials science and engineering is the controlled combining of atoms and molecules in large aggregations in ways that endow the resulting materials with properties that depend not only on the chemical nature of the atomic and molecular constituents but also on their interactions in the bulk of the material and on its surfaces. Calculation of materials properties from first principles is increasingly used by scientists and engineers to understand the origin of properties and to achieve desired characteristics. These findings are corroborated by other studies of disciplines that play a major role in materials science and engineering [including Physics Through the 1990s (1986), Opportunities in Chemistry (1985), and Frontiers in Chemical Engineering (1988) (National Academy Press)] or by studies of particular
OCR for page 5
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials areas of materials science and engineering [including Advanced Processing of Electronic Materials in the United States and Japan (1986) and Report on Artificially Structured Materials (1985) (National Academy Press)]. These studies, as well as the present one, provide examples that suggest that the gap in time between generation of knowledge and application of that knowledge is growing shorter in industries based on materials science and engineering. The processes of basic research, development, and applications engineering are becoming less sequential, separate, and compartmentalized and more concurrent, interactive, and overlapping. Thus the committee concludes: Materials scientists and engineers have a growing ability to tailor materials from the atomic scale upwards to achieve desired functional properties. In many industries, the span of time between insight and application is shrinking, and these processes are becoming increasingly interactive and iterative. Scientists and engineers must work together more closely in the concurrent development of total materials systems if industries depending on materials are to remain competitive. These conclusions surfaced in discussions of research opportunities in structural, electronic, magnetic, photonic, and superconducting materials. From strip casting of metals through the synthesis of new nonlinear optical media in photonic materials, advances in technologies that depend on performance at the cutting edge to remain competitive require the best cooperative contributions of engineering and science. Emerging Unity and Coherence of the Elements of Materials Science and Engineering Materials and their applications are diverse, and materials problems involve many science and engineering disciplines. Nonetheless, as discussed in Chapter 4, this committee recognizes an emerging unity and coherence in the field, stemming from the fact that materials scientists and engineers all work on some aspect of materials with the aim of understanding and controlling one or more of the four basic elements of the field. These four elements include: the properties or phenomena that make a material interesting or useful; performance, the measure of usefulness of the material in actual conditions of application; structure and composition, which includes the arrangement of as well as the type of atoms that determine properties and performance; and
OCR for page 6
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials synthesis and processing, by which the particular arrangements of atoms are achieved. It is not only these four basic elements—which can be diagramed as a tetrahedron (see Figure 1.10)—but also their relationships that are important. The scope of materials science and engineering includes not only areas whose utility can be identified today, but also those in which researchers seek a fundamental understanding whose utility may be unforeseen. History has shown time and again that such fundamental understanding leads, often in unexpected ways, to innovations so profound that they transform society. The quantum Hall effect and high-temperature superconductivity are two examples of phenomena involving the collective behavior of electrons in solids that could not have been envisioned a decade ago and whose full implications for our understanding of materials are still evolving. Science in the materials field must include not only those areas whose utility is clear but also basic work that provides fundamental understanding of the nature of materials. Achieving such a fundamental understanding often leads ultimately to important contributions to practical materials problems. At the engineering end of the spectrum covered by materials science and engineering, there is currently much excitement about the growing ability to exploit the relationships among the four basic elements of the field to develop and produce materials that perform in new or more effective ways. Examples of recent successes extend from the miniaturization of electronic components to steadily improving productivity and quality in the steel industry. Examples of future challenges extend from the practical realization of high-temperature superconductivity to the development of more economical methods of fabricating automotive components from polymers and polymer composites. Thus the committee concludes: Materials science and engineering is emerging as a coherent field. An effective national materials science and engineering program requires healthy, balanced, and interactive efforts spanning basic science and technology, all materials classes, and the four elements of the field: properties, performance, structure and composition, and synthesis and processing. Instrumentation and Modeling Without advanced instruments, it is impossible to carry out research at the frontiers of science and engineering. In Chapter 4 also, the committee develops the idea that renewed emphasis is needed on research leading to advanced instrumentation and also emphasizes that state-of-the-art instruments are needed to carry out research in the university setting. Such instruments range in size from those at the laboratory-bench scale serving a
OCR for page 7
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials single investigator to synchrotron radiation facilities serving large numbers of scientists and engineers; they are needed for analysis and for synthesis and processing of materials. The United States is a leader in the creative use of computers to solve research and engineering problems. Materials science and engineering can be advanced by exploiting this leadership in several areas, from the calculation of electronic-based structures, through simulation of nonequilibrium processes, to real-time monitoring and control of processing. The committee concludes: Progress in the four elements of materials science and engineering can be enhanced through increased R&D on and use of advanced instrumentation ranging from the laboratory-bench scale to major national user facilities, and through increased emphasis on computer modeling and analysis of materials phenomena and properties based on the underlying physical and chemical principles. Education The practitioners in the field come from materials science and engineering departments as well as from various disciplinary backgrounds, including physics, chemistry, and allied engineering fields. Chapter 5 asserts that educating students for careers in materials science and engineering requires a recognition of both the diversity and the coherence of the field. Many students are immediately employed after receiving a bachelor’s degree from a materials-designated department (e.g., a department of materials science and engineering) or from a chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, or other department. Materials science and engineering departments are increasingly emphasizing the four basic elements of the field—synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance—to teach a unified approach to all materials at the undergraduate level. The annual production of bachelor’s degrees from materials-designated departments is currently about 1000 per year, a figure that has changed little since the 1970s. Graduate education in materials science and engineering is provided by a diversity of academic departments or divisions, including solid-state physics and solid-state chemistry, polymer physics and polymer chemistry, and engineering, in addition to materials science and engineering and occasionally still other fields such as mathematics or computer science. The annual production of doctorates from these programs is currently just under 700, again about the same as that in the 1970s. Thus the production of specialists in materials science and engineering has remained essentially constant in the face of greatly increased needs and
OCR for page 8
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials opportunities in the field. Part of the gap is being filled by an influx of scientists and engineers from other fields (e.g., physicists, chemists, and electrical engineers working on electronic materials). This influx is a continuing source of strength for the field. Part of the gap has not been filled, which has resulted in the current shortage of materials scientists and engineers in universities and industry. The committee concludes: The total number of degrees granted by materials-designated departments plus those granted in solid-state physics and chemistry and in polymer physics and chemistry in the field of materials science and engineering has remained essentially constant for more than 20 years, while opportunities in the field have expanded. If they are implemented, the initiatives recommended in this report will create an additional demand for highly qualified personnel in materials science and engineering. There is a critical need for curriculum development and teaching materials for educational programs in materials science and engineering to reflect the broadening intellectual foundation of the field and the increased awareness of the importance of synthesis and processing. Infrastructure and Modes of Research Materials science and engineering is practiced at university, industry, and government laboratories. Chapter 6 emphasizes that, although the size of groups working on materials problems varies, most of the effort is carried out on a small scale by individuals or small teams who follow their line of research with modest resources, although some work involves major national facilities. Other work involves larger interdisciplinary teams, and some is carried out by large multidisciplinary groups addressing all four elements of a materials problem (synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance). In the long run, there will be a growing need for work on small and large scales to meet the materials challenges of a competitive international marketplace. Research in materials science and engineering at universities typically is dominated by faculty working independently or in small, sometimes multidisciplinary teams. In contrast, materials science and engineering in industry involves larger, usually multidisciplinary teams. These different approaches will continue to be needed. The surveys of eight industries referred to above suggest that industry leaders generally consider collaboration with universities desirable and in some cases even essential to address materials problems that must be solved to meet international competition. The committee’s survey of materials science and engineering at national laboratories (Chapter 6) suggests that they are also an important resource that is only now beginning to be tapped. Thus the committee concludes:
OCR for page 9
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials Small-scale research carried out by a principal investigator, sometimes with a small team, is cost-effective and is a major contributor to innovation. The United States has excelled in this mode of research. Large multidisciplinary teams are an effective mode for addressing industrial materials science and engineering problems. At the national level, industry, university, and government laboratories have the technical strength to mount major efforts and to exploit breakthroughs in the field. All three have been found to be receptive to joint materials science and engineering programs that would be supportive of more rapid commercial development. Federal Support for Materials Science and Engineering Although materials science and engineering is essential for economic and strategic competitiveness, support for materials science and engineering by the federal government has declined in recent years. The data presented in Chapter 6 indicate that during the 11 years from 1976 to 1987, the materials science and engineering budget of the six federal agencies that support most materials science and engineering research declined by 11 percent in constant dollars. The reduction in the nondefense-related portion was even larger—23 percent. The committee concludes: There is a long-term downward trend in federal support for materials science and engineering that is significantly more pronounced for nondefense-related than for defense-related programs. A strengthened national program in materials science and engineering is necessary to preserve the economic well-being and security of the nation. Materials Science and Engineering in Selected Countries For the last 40 years the United States has led world industry on the strength of its preeminence in science and technology. As Western Europe and Japan have built up their strengths in science and technology, the gap between their status and that of the United States has begun to close. In some areas these nations have caught up with or even overtaken the United States. Chapter 7 points out that the governments of our trading partners have made strong commitments to industrial growth and to coordinated R&D in three areas: biotechnology, computer and information technology, and materials science and engineering. The committee concludes: The governments of the major U.S. commercial trading partners and competitors, including Japan and West Germany, have targeted materials science and engineering as a growth area and as a result have developed strong competence in selected materials science and engineering areas.
OCR for page 10
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials These governments have taken a proactive role in deciding which areas of materials science and engineering will be emphasized on the basis of their contribution to enhancing industrial competitiveness. The various governments use differing mechanisms for achieving national coordination of programs in materials science and engineering, with varying degrees of success. RECOMMENDATIONS The recommendations of this committee are divided into three parts. The first part concerns strengthening the field; the second, maintaining and improving the infrastructure for research in materials science and engineering; and the third, recognizing and developing the unifying trends in the field. Strengthening Materials Science and Engineering Finding: Materials science and engineering is a field that is both scientifically and technically exciting and important to mankind through the daily impact of materials on the quality of life. Hence, a strong national effort is justified. The committee’s first recommendation is as follows: The national program should include strong efforts in all four basic elements of materials science and engineering—synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance. The program should include work that explores the relationships among the four elements and that spans the range from basic science to engineering. The elements of synthesis and processing as well as performance in relation to processing are currently relatively weak and should be emphasized within this national program. Finding: Federal support for materials science and engineering over the past decade shows a downward trend. As a result of the decline in support, the national materials effort is not exploiting new opportunities sufficiently rapidly. In some areas, such as synthesis and processing, there is a shortage of skills and resources. Accordingly, the committee recommends: The federal materials science and engineering program should be restored over the next several years to the levels that prevailed in previous decades in order to exploit the renewed opportunity to make accelerated progress. Finding: The general magnitude of the requirements for an adequate national effort in synthesis and processing was discussed with industry representatives. It was apparent that several hundred million dollars would be required to support fully the needs of the electronics and photonics industries
OCR for page 11
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials alone. Clearly, meeting the needs of all the industries surveyed for this report would require much more support. Synthesis and processing together form a critically important element of materials science and engineering that has too often been neglected by universities, industry, and government. It is the activity that is responsible for boosting the strength of advanced alloys and composites, for increasing the number of components on integrated circuits, and for producing new superconductors with higher transition temperatures and current-carrying capacities. Work in this area ranges from synthesis of artificially structured materials (with such advanced techniques as molecular beam epitaxy) to engineering of new alloys. Synthesis and processing, which are central to the production of competitive high-quality, low-cost products, lead to new materials with new properties and performance. Work in this area also leads to new and improved production processes with resulting lower costs. The element of synthesis and processing is therefore a crucial determinant of industrial productivity and, ultimately, international competitiveness. The committee recommends: New federal funds should be allocated for support of a national initiative in synthesis and processing. The initiative should provide support for facilities, education, and the development of research personnel. The strengths of universities, industry, and government should be brought into play, and the interactions of these three groups should be directed toward promoting the reduction of materials science and engineering results to commercial practice in the most effective possible manner. Finding: Another element of materials science and engineering that needs attention is performance. The properties of materials are put to use by society to achieve desired performance in a device, component, or machine. Some measures of performance include reliability, useful lifetime, speed, energy efficiency, safety, and life cycle costs. Performance is circumscribed by fundamental properties of materials (such as carrier mobility, which influences the switching speed of high-performance transistors, which in turn determines the speed of computers in which such transistors are used). Research to improve performance has received little emphasis in long-range programs, especially in universities, and there has been far too little linkage of this research to the other three elements of materials science and engineering. Some examples of areas representing opportunities for research to improve performance include prediction of the strength and lifetime of complex components and devices, development of improved nondestructive testing techniques, and modeling of systems for optimum material and process selection. The committee recommends: Research on performance (including quality and reliability) should be
OCR for page 12
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials increased, especially in relation to processing, but also in relation to the other elements of the field of materials science and engineering. Finding: Two additional areas of materials science and engineering need greater emphasis: (1) analysis and modeling and (2) instrumentation. In analysis and modeling work, three factors are leading to an explosion of activity, opportunities, and results. The first is the increasing speed, capacity, and accessibility of computers and the concomitant decreasing cost of computing. The second is the growing complexity of materials research and manufacturing. The third is the need in industry to speed the introduction of new designs and new processes into production and to improve production processes and products. Progress in these areas will serve to strengthen fundamental understanding of materials science and engineering and to integrate this understanding with applications. The committee recommends: Increased emphasis should be given to computer-based analysis and modeling in research programs in materials science and engineering. Finding: The capability to measure and analyze composition and structure at increasingly smaller levels is surely one of the great engines of progress of modern materials science and engineering. Of equal importance to materials science and engineering progress today is the ability to control structure and composition in new ways and at new levels of precision. Instruments, especially new and sophisticated instruments, will continue to enhance progress in materials science and engineering. The committee notes that the level of support allocated to development of new and unique instruments in universities is small and that U.S. industry is losing its ability to take basic inventions in this area and convert them into business opportunities. The effect of this deterioration in capability is that advanced instrumentation does not diffuse rapidly throughout the academic and industrial research communities. National laboratories, through their large facilities and capabilities in instruments and facility development, may be able to make a unique contribution to this activity. The committee recommends: Government funding agencies should devote a portion of their materials science and engineering program budgets specifically to R&D on and demonstration of new instruments for analysis and synthesis and processing of materials, including instruments that analyze processes in real time. Maintaining and Improving the Infrastructure for Research in Materials Science and Engineering Finding: The field of materials science and engineering is broad. The products of research in this field must meet the exacting standards of intellectual pursuit in an academic setting and of international competition in
OCR for page 13
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials commerce and defense. The way research is funded and organized in materials science and engineering must reflect this range of goals. The principal investigator mode of research has made the United States one of the strongest nations in basic research. There is a wealth of good experience with this approach, and the committee has found no evidence to suggest a need to change it. Accordingly, the committee recommends: The U.S. national asset of excellence in the principal investigator mode of research should be preserved and strengthened in the field of materials science and engineering. Finding: In recommending preservation of research headed by a principal investigator, the committee recognizes that individuals may join to form small groups to share resources or to attack problems requiring different skills. The committee also recognizes that many principal investigators together may make use of a local resource, for example, a materials laboratory with specialized equipment. On a national level, such investigations can involve cooperative use of a synchrotron light source or a new facility for processing. The committee therefore recommends: A balanced national program of resources, including major national user facilities for materials science and engineering, materials research laboratories, and other regional facilities, should continue to be developed. As necessary as an ensemble of principal investigators to carry out research for programs with broad commercial or defense objectives is the involvement of people who understand applications based on new materials or, more frequently, the incremental improvement of existing materials and processes. In order for materials science and engineering to be applied, the coupling between needs and opportunities must be strong. Applied programs need more structure; mutual understanding among those who generate knowledge and those who apply it is essential. This committee has carried out an assessment of the field in this spirit. But materials science and engineering is evolving too rapidly for major decadal surveys such as that done by the National Research Council’s Committee on Science and Materials Technology study (COSMAT, Materials and Man’s Needs, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1975) and the present study to be sufficient in themselves. The committee therefore recommends: Researchers who produce knowledge and those who apply it should continue to work together to identify the needs and opportunities in materials science and engineering, extending the work of this study through periodic reappraisals in selected areas. Such assessments should involve people from university, industry, and government laboratories. Finding: The committee has concluded that materials science and en-
OCR for page 14
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials gineering is carried out effectively at university and industry laboratories. The committee has observed that government laboratories, including national laboratories under the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology under the Department of Commerce, have considerable strength in people, equipment, and infrastructure to do research in materials science and engineering. Government laboratories have made notable contributions to this field. The strength of all three institutions—universities, industry, and government—should be directed to solving materials problems. Programs developed jointly have several advantages—they define goals, establish needs, identify opportunities, and promote collaboration and communication. The committee recommends: Universities, industry, and government laboratories should develop joint programs in areas of national importance. Government laboratories should play a central role in this effort. Recognizing and Developing Unifying Trends in the Field of Materials Science and Engineering Finding: The broad conclusions of this study are that the field of materials science and engineering encompasses all materials classes; that it spans the full spectrum from basic science to engineering; and that its relation to industrial and other societal needs is strong. The field derives great strength from its relationships to these various entities—the various materials classes, both basic and applied research, and the economic and strategic well-being of the nation. The growing unity of materials science and engineering has implications for universities, industry, and government, as outlined below. The committee recommends: Universities, industry, government, and professional societies should strive to support and to accelerate the unifying trends that already exist in materials science and engineering. Universities: Unity in Education Finding: The subject matter in the majority of materials courses offered in U.S. universities can be taught in a manner that is generic to all materials classes. An adequate curriculum will still contain a few subjects focusing on specific materials (e.g., semiconductors, glasses, metals, and polymers) or on specific functional classes of materials (e.g., optical materials, structural materials, and electronic materials). Such a generic approach to materials science and engineering education depends on exploiting the idea that the field is made up of the elements of properties, performance, structure and
OCR for page 15
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials composition, and synthesis and processing; this concept provides a unity of subject matter irrespective of materials class or whether a materials problem is examined with the tools of chemistry, physics, or engineering. However, there is a dearth of teaching materials to support such an approach. In some universities, reorganization or new organizational entities may be needed, especially at the graduate level, to achieve a program that will endow materials science and engineering professionals with the breadth and unified view of the field that is now beginning to be expected. Finding: The most critical resource in any field is well-educated, well-trained personnel. There is a shortage of such individuals in materials science and engineering, especially in the area of synthesis and processing, at all academic levels. The committee anticipates that the increased emphasis on synthesis and processing urged by this study will create an increase in demand for personnel in this area. The committee recommends: Academic programs at the undergraduate level should be oriented to the elements of the field: synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance. At both the undergraduate and the graduate level, increased emphasis should be given to developing new courses and new textbooks that deal generically with all materials. The broadening intellectual foundation of the field and the importance of synthesis and processing should be reflected in these efforts. Industry: Collaborating with Universities Finding: A recurring theme in this study has been the need for stronger university-industry interactions in the field of materials science and engineering. Industry has much to gain from rapid access to advanced basic research activities, to bright future graduates, and to advanced instrumentation. Universities, if they are to remain at the forefront of the field in their teaching and research, must have close and continuing contact with industrial researchers and technologists, and they increasingly will need the financial support of industry. Many ways exist to achieve such a coupling between universities and industry, including joint research activities, joint teaching responsibilities, lifelong education, adjunct professorships, personnel exchanges, scholarship and fellowship support, and support of junior faculty. The committee recommends: Industry and universities should each take the initiative to work together in materials science and engineering with or without government as a partner.
OCR for page 16
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials Government: Bringing the Partners Together Finding: Given the unifying trends in the field, it is desirable and appropriate that various efforts within relevant agencies have already been consolidated into clearly recognizable units dedicated to materials science and engineering. Renewed efforts to coordinate programs in different federal agencies would be a valuable extension of this accomplishment. Agencies carrying out both extramural and intramural research in materials science and engineering have an opportunity to reinforce their efforts by organizing programs in a way that recognizes the increasingly strong link between the engineering and scientific aspects of the field. A long-range interdisciplinary approach to the entire field is the best approach to capitalizing on the extensive opportunities that it presents. Accomplishing this end is best achieved through formulation and dissemination of broad, long-range goals that go beyond programmatic and disciplinary boundaries. The committee recommends: The government should recognize the essential unity of materials science and engineering in its planning, funding, and coordinating activities. Finding: The government plays a leading role in advancing materials science and engineering by supporting basic research at universities and at national laboratories, constructing and operating major user facilities, supporting the enhancement of generic technology in collaboration with industry, performing materials science and engineering germane to the specific missions of each government agency, and developing test methods and reference materials needed for accuracy in characterization of materials. Finding: The government has additional opportunities to advance materials science and engineering by taking a more active role in the following facilitative functions: . Building consensus. The government should create mechanisms that will result in the development of consensus among the many sectors that are involved in particular areas of materials science and engineering. Consensus is needed on such topics as evolving research opportunities, the identification of barriers to development that demand broad efforts directed toward their removal, and the understanding and proposing of actions to attack deficiencies in personnel. . Promoting cooperative interactions. The government should serve as an enabling organization for bringing together various sectors to work on common problems. Objectives could include stimulating the creation of industry consortia, encouraging joint industry-university programs, stimulating joint industry-national laboratory cooperation, and identifying and removing barriers to joint efforts. . Identifying industrial needs. The government should encourage the
OCR for page 17
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials various sectors of industry to identify important materials problems that they anticipate must be solved if they are to improve their competitiveness in the international marketplace. Such problems might include (a) materials needs for products and processes and (b) limitations on analytical capabilities and on availability of data that create barriers to the rapid design, testing, and use of new materials. . Communicating industry needs. The government should communicate a continuing assessment of the needs of industry that were identified in the eight industry surveys described in Chapter 2 to all members of the materials science and engineering community, including the agencies responsible for supporting materials research. . Balancing federal programs. The government should establish an annual review process for the federal programs related to materials, including those in research, development, and procurement, to ensure that they are balanced and are responsive to the needs of the nation and the opportunities that are available for accelerating progress. The committee recommends: The government should assume a more active role in bringing together the various groups involved in materials science and engineering and in enhancing communication, interaction, and coordination among the many sectors affected by materials science and engineering. Finding: The National Critical Materials Council (established by P.L. 98–373: Title II—National Critical Materials Act of 1984) has been charged with responsibility for many of the functions listed above. Finding: Many small businesses that are involved in the materials field can benefit from the availability of new technology and a broader interaction with the larger materials community. State programs that are being established to accomplish these objectives are likely to be more effective than federal ones. The involvement of the state-supported universities, the creation by the states of entities that can effectively experiment with new means of interacting with local businesses, and the willingness of states to invest resources in local enterprises are important and useful developments. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards), which was created by P.L. 100–418, is envisioned as a possible means of coordination of such state activities. Finding: The hundreds of laboratories funded by the federal government and sometimes by state governments have many capable personnel and large capital resources that could benefit industry. In particular, the national laboratories funded by the Department of Energy have many scientists and engineers with special talents in materials science and engineering. Reorien-
OCR for page 18
Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials tation of the missions of the national laboratories toward industrial materials science and engineering interests could have a salutary effect on U.S. industrial competitiveness. (The role of National Institutes of Health laboratories as an asset to the pharmaceutical industry is illustrative.) To be effective in helping industry, federal R&D must be directed intelligently to problems of genuine interest to industry. The federal laboratories, especially the National Institute of Standards and Technology in its new role, could play a useful role in establishing test procedures, setting standards, assembling data collections, and transferring the technology to industry. The committee endorses the goals adopted by the Congress in setting up the National Critical Materials Council, which should work with other agencies to ensure that the government carries out the facilitative functions as well as the more specific tasks identified above. To accomplish the data collection and analysis that are critical to carrying out these tasks, the committee recommends that the National Critical Materials Council cooperate with other organizations such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Committee on Materials, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Research Council, and the professional societies.
Representative terms from entire chapter: