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.


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-

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