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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium NAE Involvement in International Affairs H. GUYFORD STEVER It is a privilege to participate in this tribute to Gerry Dinneen as he approaches the end of his two terms as foreign secretary of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He has served with great distinction, vigor, and effectiveness, for which the NAE members are grateful and, indeed, so too is the nation. These perilous times have brought to the job and to him some very important and difficult tasks. What more could a man of his capabilities ask for! My job today is to describe the NAE’s historical involvement in international activities, on which Gerry has built so well. The Academy was founded in 1964, just in time to face a host of issues in the global engineering arena. While one of the six original objectives and purposes of the NAE was “to explore means for promoting cooperation in engineering in the United States and abroad,” for its first 5 years, NAE was too busy getting established here in the United States to devote much time to this charge. THE FIRST FOREIGN SECRETARY In 1970, the office of the NAE foreign secretary and a Committee on International Activities were established, despite the fact that relations between the National Academy of Sciences and the NAE were in disarray. Bruce S. Old was elected the first NAE foreign secretary and served until 1976. As is often the case when leaders of organizations get entangled in turf disputes, the officers respond to substantive issues. And so, Bruce Old established a good working relationship with the foreign secretary of the NAS, and members of NAE often became part of ongoing international activities of the soon-to-be-called “Academy complex,” a
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium very descriptive name indeed. This relationship soon proved advantageous to the NAS, since the NAE became a partner in National Research Council (NRC) activities and brought needed engineering talent—particularly from industry—to the issues being faced by the Academy complex in the international arena. This was often evident to those of us who were trying to put together effective and powerful NRC committees, which were badly in need of engineering expertise to address certain international issues. By the early 1970s, the newly formed NAE committees already were beginning to touch on international affairs. An example of this work was the report of the NAE Committee on Telecommunications, Telecommunications Research in the United States and Selected Foreign Countries (1973). This was one of the last reports before the rapprochement between the NAS and NAE brought all NAE committees into the Assembly of Engineering and later into the Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems, which became a major part of the reorganized NRC. From then on, the NAE could only conduct studies using NAE members, except when there was an obvious need to make an exception. The NAE foreign secretary became one of three members of the operating body of the NRC Office of International Affairs. The other two were the NAS foreign secretary, who served as chairman, and the president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) acting as IOM foreign secretary. Bruce Old established excellent working relationships with the NAS and the IOM in the NRC. By 1970, the United States had become a net importer of petroleum. This dependency on outside oil had an increasingly negative impact on our economy and made us vulnerable to the whims of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Some NAE members, led by Ken Davis, began to express to NAE President Robert Seamans a strong interest in having the NAE look at this issue. In October 1973, Bob put together an NAE group to study the engineering aspects of the problem. When the oil embargo hit, NAE was ready, issuing its report, U.S. Energy Prospects: An Engineering Viewpoint (1974). In the avalanche of studies on energy triggered by the oil embargo, this report represented a high point for its balanced approach. The document compared all sources of energy, foreign and domestic, including some not-so-well-known ones like solar and synthetic fuels, and it even treated energy conservation as an important component of any solution. One of the report’s most important features was its timeliness. Another was the committee members’ broad knowledge about international energy issues. When President Nixon directed me, acting as his science advisor, to establish and chair an advisory committee on energy research and development, I was well acquainted with the NAE and its energy study and used a substantial number of those NAE members as the nucleus of the new White House panel. Furthermore, when I was asked to prepare a list of candidates to head the newly formed Energy Research and Development Agency, I had a ready-made list at hand. NAE lost Bob Seamans as president but gained Court Perkins.
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium COMPETITIVENESS, TRADE, AND THE ECONOMY In 1976, when Bruce Hannay succeeded Bruce Old as NAE foreign secretary, he began to introduce an important new dimension to the international activities of the office: He added economic and other broader issues to the technologic ones already being considered. For a decade or so, the realization had grown steadily that U.S. industrial leadership, and therefore its economic strength, was beginning to be challenged. Some would blame it on reduced U.S. productivity. Indeed, the rate of growth in our productivity was decreasing while that of other countries had been rising. In absolute terms, we still led in productivity, but others were catching up. It was generally thought that U.S. competitiveness was declining in some important ways. In 1972, when the National Science Board began publishing its Science Indicators, U.S. research and development capabilities compared favorably to those of other developed countries. Still, R&D strength and productivity were only part of the competitiveness issue. Bruce Hannay wanted to explore the issue more deeply. For such a study, Hannay and Hugh Miller, executive director of the NAE foreign secretary’s office, recognized that they needed talent outside of the NAE’s rolls, so the study was placed in the NRC, with NAE oversight. NAE members contributed heavily. In addition to Hannay, NAE stalwarts like Ralph Landau and Lew Branscomb were major participants. To head up this effort to look broadly at industrial, economic, and foreign areas of public policy, Hannay and Miller selected Milton Katz, director of international legal studies at Harvard Law School. Other members of the study panel had pertinent, but not technological, interests. Though eyebrows were raised when NAE undertook such a broad study, the skepticism dissipated when NAE issued Technology, Trade, and the U.S. Economy (1974), an influential report whose principal conclusion was that U.S. international trade performance was affected largely by the health of the domestic economy, and that is where we should look for the solution to our international competitiveness problem. With this clear success, the committee took off like a rocket and, as committees are wont to do, they reconstituted themselves as the Committee on Technology and International Economic and Trade Issues, holding workshops and securing long-term funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) newly created directorate for science, technology, and international affairs, which itself was moving into these new areas. The directorate was started to assist the NSF director in carrying out his dual role as head of the agency and science advisor to the president. Fortunately, the directorate stayed in NSF even after the science advisor position was returned to its proper home, the White House. It’s always nice to have friends in high places—the deputy director of the new directorate was NAE member John Granger, who had been a partner with Hannay and Miller in conceiving the NAE program. The workshops, which examined more deeply issues of federal tax policy, governmental regulation, and antitrust policies and their effect on technological
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium innovation, gained technology innovation a central place in the debate on international competitiveness and trade. Interestingly, although started with an international focus, the workshops led to a broader examination both within the Academy complex and elsewhere of the importance of technology innovation and technology strength. That broader role for both the NAE and for the Academy complex has continued to this day. The NAE report on technology and trade led the White House to ask the Commerce Department to examine the effect of government policies on industrial innovation. NAE member Jordan Baruch, the assistant secretary of commerce for science and technology, led this effort. The resulting report (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1979) triggered a major NAE colloquium on industrial innovation and public policy options, chaired by NAE member Arthur Bueche. Moreover, since a principal conclusion of the report was that international competitiveness and trade issues differed for each major industry sector, the NAE decided to examine individually several major industry groups. In 6 years with over 100 diverse experts participating, Study Director Marlene Beaudin oversaw the production of 7 reports, one each in textiles, steel, machine tools, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics, and civil aviation manufacturing. So proud was the NAE of these reports that they were packaged together in an attractive box and sent to many influential leaders. I am sure that many of the recipients of the collection did as I did: put it in their private library to be handed down through the generations. I can just see some future generation discovering those NAE reports and asking why their own generation could not do as good work as their forebears! Another example of NAE involvement in international affairs came in 1978, when NRC Chairman Phil Handler established a committee to advise the State Department on its preparations for the 1979 United Nations International Conference on Science and Technology for Developing Nations. Working with the Office of International Affairs, NAE helped select panel members in five areas: education, health, energy, communications, and civil infrastructure and transportation. You can see the need for engineers in such a study. Incidentally, John Gibbons, who is now the president’s science advisor, chaired the energy panel for that report, enhancing his exposure on the Washington scene. The resulting report did influence the State Department’s presentations at the conference, and the agency made it a free best-seller at the event. Unfortunately, the State Department could not meet even a fraction of the requests for foreign aid it received at the meeting, thus generating some ill will. Over the years, more and more of our members have become involved with international affairs in a great number of countries and cultures. This experience has built a substantial pool of sophisticated talent to offer to international activities of the NAE and the NRC. Also, we should count ourselves very fortunate to have had over the years staffs that were very knowledgeable and talented in international affairs. In 1978, not long after the fall of the Gang of Four, the Chinese minister of
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium education asked the NAE to send a delegation to review China’s engineering education and their industries’ use of engineers. Agreeing to that request, Court Perkins got the late Joseph Pettit, then president of Georgia Tech, to serve as chairman. I served as vice chairman and another NAE member, Betsy Ancker-Johnson, joined a team of about a dozen. Just to go to China with such high sponsorship at that time in its history was the experience of a lifetime, and to do the job was the experience of a career. During 30 beautiful autumn days we visited 13 industrial plants ranging over all the major manufacturing technologies, 13 different universities and institutes of technology, and 6 major cities—Beijing, Shenyang, Chengtu, Nanking, Hofei, and Shanghai. We also saw Chinese opera, the Great Wall, tombs, and ancient palaces. In our report to the minister of education, we suggested ways to help upgrade the quality of Chinese graduate schools and improve the lot of engineers in Chinese industry, and he rewarded Joe, Betsy, and me on our last day there with an invitation to sit at his table at the banquet at the 29th celebration of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in the Great Hall in Tien an men Square. Fringe benefits of NAE service! WORKING WITH INTERNATIONAL COLLEAGUES Another initiative suggested by Bruce Hannay was taken up by President Perkins, namely the founding of the Convocation of Academies of Engineering and Technical Sciences (CAETS). Founding members were the United States, Mexico, Sweden, Britain, and Australia. In the beginning, the principal activity of CAETS was to have biennial convocations on selected topics of interest in engineering. Hannay took a leadership role in all the early meetings. These meetings grew in popularity and an increasing number of nonmembers were invited to participate. At a meeting of officers of the member academies in 1985, NAE President Bob White proposed changing CAETS’ name to the Council of Academies of Engineering and Technical Societies, drawing up a charter of requirements for joining the council, immediately soliciting membership from some obvious candidate countries, and helping other nations to start or reorganize their existing academies to meet the requirements. All of this soon came to pass, and now there are 14 member countries. NAE staff member Steven Anastasion was selected as secretary and vice president of CAETS. These various steps have resulted in greater cooperation between and among the member academies. Also in 1985, as newly elected NAE Foreign Secretary, I became CAETS president and began to make preparations for the sixth convocation, which was to focus on the globalization of technology. At that meeting, I organized both the presentations and the discussions around the subject of technology and the global economy, and I secured some of the world’s leading engineers and industrialists to discuss state-of-the-art developments in manufacturing, new materials, information technology, and telecommunications.
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium In the mid- and late 1980s, it was clear that Japan and China would become more and more important in terms of international science and technology. Bob White and I joined our counterparts in the NAS in far-reaching discussions with the leaders of these two countries on issues of technology and trade, innovation, manufacturing technology, and access to science and engineering facilities. These meetings represented a considerable broadening of the exchanges that had started in about 1980. One of the last reports I got involved with as foreign secretary was in response to a request from the National Science Board to examine international cooperation in engineering and to assess the issues arising from the growing interdependence of international engineering enterprises. The resulting report, Strengthening U.S. Engineering Through International Cooperation (National Academy of Engineering, 1987), was very influential due to the efforts of two NAE members, Karl Willenbrock and Bert Westwood, who led the efforts in two areas, education and industry, respectively. They often remarked to me that they did the work and I got the credit, to which I would answer, “Of course, how did you think I got ahead? ” I must say that NAE Program Director Jesse Ausubel contributed greatly to that report. Finishing a trip in Paris in the late spring of 1986 with Willenbrock, Westwood, and Anastasion, during which we had tapped the wisdom of many NAE foreign members in Germany, Britain, and France, I got a call from Bob White in Washington asking me to chair the review of the solid rocket design called for by the presidential commission investigating the space shuttle Challenger accident. When I asked Bob how much time would be involved, without hesitation he answered, “About 3 months.” I accepted, and about 30 months later we finished the job, well after my term as foreign secretary ended! Bob has been a great NAE president, but he is an incurable optimist. THE CHALLENGES OF A CHANGING WORLD When Gerry agreed to become a candidate for the foreign secretary job, it was a great thing for the NAE. His experience in high-tech industry at Honeywell, the Department of Defense, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology radiation laboratory equipped him very well for the challenges of international science and technology. Gerry has had to carry on all of the initiatives started by his predecessors —technology in complex industrial relationships with Japan and China; helping many developing nations; and CAETS and efforts to bring in new member academies—and he has also had to face almost unbelievable changes in the world. Contrary to rumor, none of Gerry’s predecessors blame him for all that has happened; rather, we are a little envious of the interesting international situations he has faced. Soviet President Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika had started just at the end of my time as foreign secretary, bringing hope of important positive changes
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium in the Soviet Union, even though we recognized the difficulty of bringing about the changes. As part of the Academy complex, the NAE was eager to help, but 2 years after Gerry’s term started, glasnost and perestroika failed and were followed by an attempted coup, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and serious economic changes. Soviet engineers and scientists lost their jobs or were so poorly paid that they had to seek nonscientific work. As the treaties limiting the number of nuclear bombs went into effect, it became important to find “conversion” jobs for the many former Soviet engineers and scientists who worked in the nuclear weapons business. Gerry and I got together on a major project when Allan Bromley, President Bush’s science advisor, asked NAS President Frank Press, Kennedy School of Government professor Ashton Carter, and me, with help from the Academy complex and the Carnegie Commission, to form a group of experts to study the Soviet situation and report to the White House in a month. Gerry volunteered to cover commercialization of technologies; Jim Wyngaarden, NAS foreign secretary, focused on basic research; NAE member Al Trivelpiece looked at multidisciplinary, problem-oriented research; and Ash Carter examined issues related to weapons scientists and engineers. We also enlisted about 120 well-qualified experts to help. In a month we delivered a report, Reorientation of the Research Capability of the Former Soviet Union (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, 1992), which the White House used to help it develop policies toward the former Soviet Union. Of course, in this new field of changing relationships with the former Soviet Union, this report was only the beginning. Gerry had more years to work for the NAE in the startlingly changed world. Gerry ’s work embraced a number of important themes of vital interest to our country and the world: the importance of the global economy; the need to harness technology for societal progress; and engineering ’s role in creating a stable world. What a fine job he did! I cannot wait until the end of Gerry’s term. Then I will have a chance to hear the inside scoop on his interesting activities! Gerry, I join all your friends and colleagues in thanking you and Mary, and I wish you both well in your next endeavors. REFERENCES National Academy of Engineering. 1973. Telecommunications Research in the United States and Selected Foreign Countries: A Preliminary Survey. Vols. I (Summary) and II (Individual Contributions). Report to the National Science Foundation. Committee on Telecommunications. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Engineering. National Academy of Engineering. 1974. U.S. Energy Prospects: An Engineering Viewpoint. NAE Task Force on Energy. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Engineering. National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council Assembly of Engineering. 1978. Technology, Trade, and the U.S. Economy. Report of a workshop on technological factors contributing to the nation’s foreign trade position. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.
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THE GLOBAL AGENDA FOR AMERICAN ENGINEERING: Proceedings of a Symposium National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council Office of International Affairs. 1987. Strengthening U.S. Engineering Through International Cooperation: Some Recommendations for Action. Committee on International Cooperation in Engineering. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Engineering. National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 1992. Reorientation of the Research Capability of the Former Soviet Union: A Report to the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology . Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. U.S. Department of Commerce. 1979. Advisory Committee on Industrial Innovation: Final Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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