RECOMMENDATIONS—AN AGENDA FOR ACTION
In the course of its study, COSMAT has found that the concept of a materials cycle offers a comprehensive framework for considering directions of action on national materials issues, particularly as they relate to materials science and engineering. In that context we have encountered several recurring themes:
Materials, energy, and the environment are parts of the same vast system; policies and programs that deal with one will falter unless they take full account of the other two on the same level and against the backdrop of the materials cycle.
Materials science and engineering will play a pivotal role in managing and conserving this country’s material, energy, and environmental resources, presenting as it does a total body of science and engineering that can be invoked in a sophisticated—perhaps unprecedented— manner to help solve societal problems.
Interdisciplinary research has become essential to progress in complex fields like materials, the environmental sciences, and medicine, but the universities generally harbor some resistance to interdisciplinarity going well beyond that needed to preserve the separate, and indispensable, scientific and engineering disciplines.
Materials science and engineering displays an unusually close and continuous linkage between basic research and ultimate applications, together with a combination of
responsiveness and creativeness that holds strong potential for upgrading technologies regarded as socially and economically important
Advances in materials and related fields feed on bodies of knowledge that require steady replenishment by research and development, suitably funded and carefully balanced between the basic and the applied.
The 24 recommendations that follow, we believe, propose realistic actions consistent with these themes. The Recommendations fall naturally into five groups, depending on the emphasis of the action proposed: technical, governmental, industrial, academic, and professional. The sequence of the Recommendations should not be construed as rank ordering in any sense.
Recommendations for Technical Action
Materials Research and Development Required for Progress in Energy Technology
The pressing demand for energy in this country is creating problems that simply cannot be solved without skillful exploitation of materials science and engineering. We must learn to generate, transmit, store, and use energy more efficiently and within appropriate environmental constraints. All too often, it seems that the developers of new technologies have counted heavily on the expectation that improved materials would somehow be discovered as needed. This risk is too great to take in the energy field. Inadequate materials hamper our current fossil- and nuclear-fuel technologies; and lacking new or
sharply improved materials, some advanced energy systems may never be reduced to practice. Federal leadership is essential for the coordinated development of energy technologies, but industry, despite the pressures of short-term economic survival, can do much to help solve the related long-range materials problems.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT both government and industry define clearly, and ensure that close attention is being given to, those areas of materials research and development likely to be critical for significant progress in methods of generating, transmitting, storing, and using energy.
This recommendation should be implemented in the federal government by the highest-ranking office concerned with energy policy. In industry, action should be pressed by organizations like the new Electric Power Research Institute. Upgraded materials are required for high-temperature gas turbines, for breeder reactors, for magnetohydrodynamic generators, for energy-storage devices, and for superconductor technology. The unique advantages of solar energy warrant coordinated attack on the pertinent materials problems, with adequate long-term funding by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Electric power from nuclear fusion is not a certainty, but pending a demonstration of technical feasibility, the presumed materials demands of the process should be studied critically to minimize the possibility that they may become the limiting factor. Such materials problems, together with those currently inhibiting the nuclear-fission technologies, should
receive sustained attention from the Atomic Energy Commission. (Pages 70–76)
Materials Expertise in Environmental Management
A large fraction of man-made pollution results from activities involving materials (even excluding foods and fossil fuels, as we do here). It follows that we can solve many environmental problems by moving materials through the materials cycle more carefully. The consequent job for materials science and engineering—meshed closely in practice, with product design—is to discover and develop materials and processes that ease the pressures on the environment without corresponding sacrifice in function and cost. This approach, which cuts across an unusually wide range of disciplines, social as well as technical, is invoked somewhat today, but hardly to the degree that is possible and necessary. For the most part, the materials community is not yet oriented toward the complex issues of environmental systems. Moreover, those concerned with such questions may not have fully appreciated the potential of materials science and engineering in these matters.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the interdisciplinary capabilities of materials science and engineering be applied more intensively along a broad front on materials-related environmental problems, with emphasis on the materials cycle and its energy and environmental subcycles.
This recommendation should be implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency, and should also be heeded by industry and the universities. Elements of a systems approach to environmental quality, in which strong participation of the materials community is vital, pertain not simply to products, but also to materials development, selection, and processing; discovery of substitute materials and functional alternatives; product design and manufacture; product/environment interaction; materials reclamation and disposal; and instrumentation for pollution monitoring and control. The Environmental Protection Agency might find unusual opportunities for pursuing such topics in existing federal laboratories, as in Recommendation 12. (Pages 12–13, 41, 43, 56–63, 86–89)
Materials Emphasis in Goal-Oriented Research
Potential scarcities of certain materials, the country’s current shift in technological emphasis toward civilian-oriented goals, and recent trends in consumer and environmental legislation, all combine to raise unprecedented and challenging materials-related questions, The results of COSMAT’s priority analysis show, among other things, that in some areas significant progress will occur only if materials research can surmount major roadblocks; in other areas, materials research can move us ahead markedly even when materials may not be limiting factors.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT organizations, including government, that support or perform goal-oriented research, especially in civilian-directed areas, ensure that work on end products is accompanied by adequately-supported research on related problems in materials including, where appropriate, special attention to the development of substitutes based on the more abundant materials.
The topics of highest priority in goal-oriented materials research established by our analysis are summarized according to areas of national impact in Table 14. (Pages 54–96)
Applied Materials Research of Broad Implication
The nation’s civilian technologies and still-significant progress in defense and space depend for success on sustained, strong efforts in applied research on materials. It is critical that such research include work in certain materials areas of broad implication, namely, those spanning a range of missions or end uses, and so can be regarded as generic. Because this type of research often lies between basic and mission-directed research, it runs the risk of receiving inadequate support. In these areas—such as corrosion, testing and characterization, and toxicity—what is wanted is widely-applicable knowledge and methods, rather than one-shot empirical solutions to individual difficulties. It appears, therefore, that many of the
problems we have in mind can be investigated fruitfully by scientists trained originally in basic research.
Generic Applied Research
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT investigators in the fundamental aspects of materials, particularly at universities, exercise initiative in identifying and pursuing opportunities in generic applied research on materials, and that they recognize the importance of such research in maintaining the vitality of materials research and development. (See Recommendation 10.)
Priorities in generic applied materials research where specialized knowledge would certainly prove useful appear in Table 16. From the industrial standpoint, the action recommended could be advanced by cooperative funding of programs in universities, research institutes, and independent laboratories. For federal agencies that support materials research and development, the generic applied work discussed here is an essential element in establishing properly balanced programs. (Pages 97–102, 106–134)
Research on Fundamental Properties of Materials
The vitality of materials science and engineering also depends on sustained basic research to advance the fundamental understanding that allows the behavior of electrons, atoms, and molecules to be related to the world of product function and performance. It is
essential that we add steadily to the reservoir of new basic knowledge on materials, a reservoir to be tapped eventually in ways that cannot now be foreseen. Our predictive ability is relatively good for elemental and single-crystal materials, particularly those with potentially useful electronic properties, though many questions remain. For the multitude of more complex materials, however, we have made only the barest beginnings toward developing the necessary fundamental concepts.
Research on Fundamental Properties
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT federal agencies and industries that perform or support basic research on materials phenomena encourage adequate attention to studies of relatively simple (model) solids while, at the same time, placing increasing emphasis on materials which are more complex in composition and structure.
This recommendation is directed primarily to the National Science Foundation and the mission-oriented federal agencies that support basic research. The focus proposed, however, is appropriate also for companies where management is receptive to the prospect of longer-term payoff. Promising topics for basic research include: interatomic forces, chemical bonding, and lattice stability; microscopic mechanisms of phase transitions; the amorphous, disordered state of matter; impurity and defect phenomena in solids; surfaces; one- and two-dimensional systems (e.g., linear molecules and interfaces, respectively); structure-property relationships in polymers; collective behavior of excited systems of atoms and electrons; and the dynamics of nonequilibrium systems. (Pages 97, 103–104, 134–153)
Renewable Resources as a Raw-Materials Base for Polymers
The tonnage of synthetic polymers—plastics, fibers, and rubbers—produced annually in the United States is now comparable to that of nonferrous metals. About 90 percent of the output is based on petroleum and natural-gas liquids; while polymers account for less than 5 percent of our consumption of these hydrocarbons, the implicit conflict with energy requirements is likely to intensify. Although oil shale and coal might be developed as raw-materials bases for polymers, it is nevertheless attractive to consider the technical feasibility of deriving synthetic polymers from renewable resources despite the fact that in the short range, hydrocarbons have a substantial economic edge.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT studies be undertaken on the feasibility of using renewable resources, including organic wastes, as a raw-materials base for synthetic polymers.
This recommendation should be implemented by the Board on Agriculture and Renewable Resources of the Commission on Natural Resources, National Research Council. The analysis we recommend would emphasize topics such as: cellulose from wood, plants, and organic wastes as a major raw-materials base; the properties of cellulose-derived polymers compared to those manufactured from hydrocarbons; and production of ethylene, the major monomer in synthetic polymers, from alcohol made by fermenting organic wastes. Each such topic, moreover, must be considered in terms of its relative
ecological impact, including the biodegradability of the resulting synthetic polymers. (Pages 57–58, 88–89)
Materials Selection and Product Design to Facilitate Recycling
The need to raise the recycle rates of many materials is likely to become more intense, for both economic and environmental reasons. Skillful integration of materials selection with product design can ease the dismantling and separation of components for recycling, but this approach is not always straightforward. Metals like those in a shredded automobile, for example, tend to be degraded with each recycle, although they may be suitable for functions less demanding than the original ones. The same is true of many other materials, including blended plastics, ceramics, composites, and glass.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the resources of materials science and engineering be deliberately exploited and extended to upgrade the recyclability of materials through materials development and selection, meshed carefully with product design, and through the development of new recycling processes.
This recommendation should be implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. Typical targets for materials science and engineering would include the development of materials—ceramic, metallic,
and polymeric—in which additives and alloying elements do not interface with the recycling of the base material. The eventual goal is to combine materials selection, product design and manufacture, and recycle processing in a systems approach to the optimization of new product development. (Pages 62–63, 87)
Recommendations for Governmental Action
Federal Policies and Programs in Materials
Demands for materials, old and new, cannot fail to intensify in the years ahead. It is imperative that the nation look more closely at how best to meet the changing requirements for materials, not only in terms of conventional market factors, but also in the light of consumer attitudes, environmental pressures, and international relations. Materials science and engineering, applied creatively to the materials cycle, can do much to integrate modern materials technology into federal policies on materials supply and usage and the interrelated policies on energy and the environment. We also see a major role for materials science and engineering in federal mechanisms for technology assessment. Such approaches can work well only when objectives are clearly delineated, and yet materials-related federal responsibilities today are diffused among many agencies and advisory bodies that seem to have no unifying goals. This fragmentation is particularly disadvantageous from the standpoint of developing effective national policies pertaining to energy, the environment, and materials.
Federal Materials Policies
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the federal government equip itself with analytical and advisory capabilities for addressing national materials policies and programs in the context of the materials cycle and the associated energy and environmental requirements, drawing deliberately on the knowledge and experience of the nation’s technical community; and that each governmental agency involved with materials be made responsible, in its planning, functions, and technological verification of programs, for taking materials issues into full account on the same level as, and in concert with, energy and environmental issues.
This recommendation is in keeping with corresponding recommendations of the National Commission on Materials Policy; it relates also to the implementation, by the Department of the Interior, of the Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970. A significant purpose of the coherent approach to materials questions being proposed here is the stimulation of research and development in materials to improve the country’s competitiveness in world markets and to optimize its consumption of resources. Additional points are: to give materials issues proper weight in national policies; to provide for an integrated approach to the entire materials cycle, from resource identification through processing, engineering applications, end use, disposal, and recyclability; and to provide leadership for international cooperation in the
materials field. Critical to the implementation of this Recommendation is the ability to make predictions relative to the materials cycle. This ability relies in turn on an analytical capacity—including data bases and econometric modeling—whose development poses a strongly interdisciplinary challenge to both physical and social sciences. (Pages 4–6, 16–21, 28–29)
International Cooperation on Materials-Related Issues
Nations have long contended with common problems of supply and trade in materials. Other materials-related international activities include the International Standards Organization, the newly-formed Environmental Program of the United Nations, and the U.S.-U.S.S.R. program of cooperation in scientific research, in which catalytic materials are among the areas of interest. We see much to gain, however, from more extensive international cooperation on materials-related questions.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the United States, through international bodies as well as bilaterally, press for greater international cooperation in such matters as setting materials standards, care of the environment, conservation of resources, materials research of wide-ranging import, and exchange of materials scientists and engineers (and specialists in other fields); and that private organizations
involved in materials seek more extensive cooperation with their counterparts abroad.
Responsibility for implementing this recommendation would lie primarily with the Departments of State and Commerce, although the federal science advisory structure should play a prominent part. Scientific and engineering societies should be urged to undertake new initiatives to promote freer flow of professional and technical information around the world. The federal action recommended, among its potential benefits, could help this country develop its materials policies in cognizance of those of other nations. (Pages 13–15)
Federal Support for Basic and Applied Research in Materials
Basic research in materials must be balanced properly with applied research if we are to maintain the close linkage and relatively short time scale—10 to 20 years—between basic research and applications that has characterized materials science and engineering. The traditional product- or mission-directed applied research is best supported, in general, by industry or mission-oriented federal agencies. There is in addition, however, considerable need for generic applied research in materials (see Recommendation 4). It is this broadly applicable research that should be balanced judiciously with basic research to achieve well-rounded materials programs.
Federal Support for Materials Research
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT those federal agencies responsible for funding basic or applied research encourage the materials community to identify and attack problems in generic applied research, in line with Recommendation 4.
This recommendation is directed primarily to the National Science Foundation. Funding of basic research in materials by the NSF Materials Research Division (and by other agencies) is well established. Support of generic applied research could be undertaken by that Division, but is particularly suitable for the Foundation’s program in Research Applied to National Needs, given the necessary administrative and financial resources. Generic applied research on materials, where feasible, could also be undertaken to advantage by mission-oriented federal agencies. (Pages 16–21, 32–36, 97–104, 106– 134)
Coordination of Materials Research within the Federal Government
The federal government conducts and supports extensive research and development in materials. Liaison among the agencies involved is handled by the Interagency Council for Materials and by other, less formal groups. These bodies as now constituted are unable to gather and analyze information to the degree required to optimize the allocation of the pertinent federal resources; they also lack the influence
to motivate adequate federal response. More detailed liaison will be needed in the future to facilitate transfer of knowledge and to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort while identifying new opportunities in materials research and development.
Coordination of Federal Materials R&D
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT an appropriate federal body be assigned the authority to review regularly the allocation of federal funds for materials research and development, to assess the progress of such research and development and to recommend changes in emphasis in terms of national objectives, such changes to be implemented through the Office of Management and Budget.
The action proposed here is a necessary part of the analytical and advisory capability called for by Recommendation 8. The reviews, assessments, and recommendations concerning materials research and development should go annually to the relevant agencies and to the federal science advisory structure. The federal body named in this recommendation should also move to codify and make widely accessible the extensive technical information on materials generated in governmental programs. (Pages 16–21, 32–36)
Effective Use of Federal Laboratories
Federal laboratories, including federally-funded research and development centers, perform more than half the applied and basic
research in materials supported by the federal government, or roughly twice the average for federal research spending in all fields. These laboratories have worked mainly in materials-limited areas in defense, nuclear energy, and space. As the civilian-oriented agencies begin to integrate materials science and engineering into their programs, in response to shifting national priorities, they should find it advantageous and economical to tap the large existing federal resource in materials research and development.
Use of Federal Laboratories
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT civilian-oriented and other governmental agencies take full advantage of existing federal facilities and personnel to harness materials science and engineering to emerging programs, and that this federal resource in materials be utilized both in a consultative capacity and in performing the indicated research and development.
The agencies themselves should be primarily responsible for implementing this Recommendation. Information and coordination should be provided by whatever federal body is designated in the implementation of Recommendation 11. The action recommended, among its other benefits, would help avoid costly losses in technological momentum that can result from discontinuities in federal programs. (Pages 8–21, 32–36)
Recommendations for Industrial Action
Integration of Materials Science and Engineering with Design and Manufacture
Progress in experience-intensive or low-technology industries has been limited by relatively low investment in research and development, but it is also true that such industries often have not sufficiently exploited existing knowledge in materials science and engineering. In product development, for example, it is highly desirable and sometimes critical for materials specialists to work closely from the start, and on an equal footing, with design and production engineers. This collaboration can lead to more economical design, fewer startup problems in manufacturing processes, and improved product performance and reliability. Indeed, the alliance of materials specialists with design and production experts will grow ever more crucial as materials operations react to the mounting pressures of consumer, energy, and environmental requirements.
Integration of Materials Knowledge With Design and Production
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT technical management in industry make strong efforts to integrate materials science and engineering with product design and manufacture, as employed most effectively in the science-intensive or high technologies of aerospace, electronics, and nuclear energy.
This recommendation calls for bold industrial initiative, which could be encouraged by the Industrial Research Institute but in the end must be spearheaded by technical management. The experience-intensive
industries will find no lack of opportunities for progress—at a minimum the development of a keener awareness of the limitations of materials and of the capabilities of process and quality control. It has been estimated, for example, that perhaps half the corrosion in this country could be avoided by applying the available materials knowledge to industrial and consumer products. (Pages 46–63)
Stimulation of Materials Science and Engineering in Civilian Technologies
The universality of materials suggests that the stimulation of industrial programs in materials science and engineering can be a powerful stimulus to civilian technologies in general. In some materials-intensive industries—construction, housing, materials fabrication—many companies are relatively small and unable to develop or readily adopt new technology. Even large companies may be unable to justify research and development because the risks are too great, the markets too small, or both. Federal agencies that traditionally have provided both research funds and markets for high technologies like aerospace have no obvious counterparts among the civilian-oriented agencies. Such problems can be eased and sometimes solved by measures such as tax incentives and procurement regulations, but we propose that enterprising action in materials science and engineering warrants serious attention.
Materials Research in Civilian Technologies
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT fragmented industries be encouraged to conduct cooperative research and development in materials related to their product needs; that, in civilian-oriented technologies where extensive federal procurement can be anticipated or, alternatively, where markets are small, the pertinent federal agencies support industrial R&D on materials through the phases that entail unacceptable risk or long lead times as judged by realistic commercial practice; and that the federal government and trade associations jointly stimulate, on an experimental basis, the establishment of a small number of national or regional programs in broadly applicable, product-related materials science and engineering.
The Department of Commerce should take the lead in implementing this recommendation. Active participation would be required by the Department of Justice, the National Science Foundation, the federal body named under Recommendation 11, the mission-oriented federal agencies, trade associations, and individual companies. State governments should also seek ways to participate. The cooperative R&D might involve joint support of an industrial materials research center or of materials research programs in company, university, or independent laboratories. Civilian-oriented areas appropriate for federal funding of industrial research include construction and biomedical materials. The national or regional programs we propose would concentrate on
generic problems like materials shaping, materials joining, and friction and wear (see Recommendation 4). These programs should be established preferably where suitable expertise already exists, particularly at universities and in federal laboratories. An example of what might be done is the longstanding cooperative program of the National Bureau of Standards and the American Dental Association in developing advanced dental materials. The actions proposed in this Recommendation would complement existing technology-incentives experiments in the Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation. (Pages 3, 14, 51–53)
Research Needs in Bulk-Materials Industries
Bulk-material industries tend to invest less heavily in research than does industry generally, although they appear not to lack diverse technical challenges. With little ability to generate basic knowledge themselves, such mature industries can become incapable of evaluating and using basic knowledge generated elsewhere. Companies in these industries, if they do not have even small cadres of skilled scientists, performing comparably to and communicating with their academic peers, may find themselves literally unable to solve technical problems of clear commercial import. The danger seems to have been recognized in Japan, for example, where the recent trend in such industries has been to invest increasingly in research. In the United States it is now urgent for the materials-producing and processing industries to begin or enlarge research programs aimed at greater efficiency in processing
and manufacturing, particularly in the face of mounting ecological pressures.
Research in Bulk-Materials Industries
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT corporate managements in bulk-materials industries make sure that the nature and scope of their research programs, especially with regard to materials processing and manufacturing methods, are such that new knowledge and techniques generated elsewhere can be effectively assimilated.
This recommendation calls in some cases for thorough rethinking of industrial practice in research, with a view to maintaining at least the ability to evaluate and use new developments discovered elsewhere. A prime opportunity appears to lie in materials extraction, processing, and recycling, where entirely new technologies may be required to obtain useful products from huge tonnages of very low-grade and widely disseminated deposits at acceptable energy and environmental costs. Also required are more competitive manufacturing processes, involving especially the continuous production of metal parts or shapes from the fluid state (liquids or powders). These challenges in extraction, processing, and manufacturing call for new automation techniques involving servomechanisms, minicomputers, and materials-critical sensors based on the interactions of diverse forms of matter with acoustic, electromagnetic, and other forms of radiation. All of these directions suggest, on the whole, a pressing need in mature industries for greater participation by scientists and engineers who may not be
traditionally associated with those industries, such as professionals in computers, electronics, lasers, and nuclear reactors. (Pages 51–53)
Value of Specialized Research Centers
A major contributor to the achievements of materials science and engineering during the past two decades has been the revolution in research equipment, instrumentation, and analytical tools. The current requirements of the field for such equipment entail relatively modest cost in the scale of modern science and technology, but these requirements are not being met in some areas, for example, in flammability, nondestructive testing, robotics, and biomaterial evaluation. Central facilities can be an economical means of satisfying such needs.
Specialized Research Centers
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT a small number of specialized regional and national centers be established cooperatively by industry, the universities, and government for providing research and equipment services in materials science and engineering on a broad basis, and that these facilities be centered on existing capabilities, intellectual as well as physical, that are already of high quality and that can be made readily accessible to the technical community.
Industry should take the lead in implementing this recommendation and should encourage the universities to make appropriate facilities
available for the purpose. The centers should aim to become largely self-supporting in service work. The staffs should also do research, however, in order to be able to provide a well-rounded capability, and this would probably require sustained outside support. The department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation might participate in this work, in part because of their current experiments in stimulating civilian technologies. Equipment for materials research includes high-voltage electron microscopes, nuclear reactors, and particle accelerators, requirements that can probably be met with existing federal and university facilities, providing they are funded adequately and made widely accessible. Among the needs in materials engineering are programs on flammability and on nondestructive testing. Collaboration in such areas would be natural for industrial and nonprofit laboratories. A central facility is warranted to develop methods of evaluating biomedical materials and related standards; the National Institute of Health and the National Bureau of Standards might jointly establish such a unit. A center is also desirable for research on the automation of industrial processes, which would require close interaction among materials scientists and engineers and specialists in information processing (electronics and computers). (Pages 28–30, 86, 90, 93–96, 131–134)
Recommendations for University Action
Need for Interdisciplinary Programs in Universities
To solve technological problems as well as to advance science often calls for interdisciplinary attack, and the materials field offers useful lessons in this respect. Yet the practice of interdisciplinary research and education at universities, including materials research centers, is impeded by the disciplinary and administrative characteristics of the institutions themselves. It is inhibited also by the internal structure of some of the main research-supporting agencies, including the lack of balance with respect to disciplines and materials in the staffing of those agencies.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT universities intensify their efforts to build interdisciplinary activities in research and education; that the barriers to interdisciplinarity in universities be examined critically; and that guidelines be developed for recognizing and rewarding academic achievement in interdisciplinary and interdepartmental programs.
This recommendation must be implemented by the universities themselves, although the American Council on Education could also undertake a study of the difficulties encountered by interdisciplinary programs. Materials science and engineering is one of several logical vehicles for such an effort. Federal agencies can encourage interdisciplinary work at universities through appropriate incentives and support, not only for research, but also for training students in
the interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving. Supporting agencies should recognize, however, that suitably strong programs must be maintained in the traditional disciplines, which are essential to sound interdisciplinary activities. (Pages 23–27, 37–41)
Materials Education for Physical Scientists and Engineers
More than a decade ago, a comprehensive report* on engineering education pointed out the importance of education in materials for all engineering undergraduates. The makeup of the nation’s manpower in materials science and engineering including as it does large numbers of engineers, physicists, and chemists, as well as holders of materials-designated degrees, reinforces this view and extends it beyond engineering students in the physical sciences.
Materials Education for Undergraduates
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT undergraduate education in the physical sciences as well as in engineering provide opportunities for a flexible content of solid-state topics relevant to materials science and engineering.
This recommendation invites attention by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Education, as well as by the academic community. The exposure we propose might also consist of
elective subjects, minor programs, or double majors, depending on the field and level. The concept of structure/property relationships could be emphasized in certain physics, chemistry, and engineering subjects. (Pages 28–33)
Balance in Materials-Degree Programs
University departments offering materials-designated degrees have, in the main, built into their curricula a suitable scientific base in physics, chemistry, and the pertinent engineering sciences. Substantial imbalances exist, however, in other areas important to the long-range effectiveness of materials science and engineering.
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT, depending on local circumstances, materials-degree programs provide increased emphasis on such engineering topics as: materials preparation and processing; polymer technology; design and systems analysis; computer modeling; relations among the properties, function, and performance of materials; and that research in these areas be included.
The academic community should implement this recommendation. We believe that the curricular balance proposed will improve the education of a large fraction of the materials graduates who will pursue careers outside the university. (Pages 39, 54–96)
Block Funding of Materials Research Centers
COSMAT’s inquiries into the existing materials research centers at universities confirm that the federal experiment of block funding, with research projects and facilities selected and managed locally, is a sound means of encouraging research of high quality. Performance at individual block-funded institutions has been uneven, however. It appears that some focusing of the associated research is usually desirable if strong interdisciplinary activities are to develop. And although central facilities have shown their potential for increasing the sophistication and output of materials research, actual working interactions in cooperative research on a given campus appear to depend more on local leadership by faculty and administration.
Materials Research Centers
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT support of materials research centers through block grants be accepted as an established funding method; that block grants be awarded and renewed on a competitive basis, and provide for forward or step funding; that, in addition to support for individual scientists, some concentration of effort be encouraged to take advantage of local research specializations; and that appropriate parts of the center programs be oriented toward materials systems (integrated combinations of materials), processing, and applications.
This recommendation applies primarily to the National Science Foundation, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration. Of the federal budget for university research in materials, the proportion directed to materials research centers seems generally adequate to retain overall quality and flexibility; step funding will lessen problems caused by federal program changes or budget reductions. Focused efforts would offer a promising opportunity for civilian-oriented federal agencies to stimulate pertinent materials research at universities by contributing to the support of block-funded programs. (Pages 37–40)
Recommendations for Professional Action
Roles for National Advisory Groups
Numerous groups advise parts of the federal government on special aspects of materials, but the two with continuity and wide scope are the National Materials Advisory Board and the Committee on Solid State Sciences, both within the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. Each committee has dealt only with specific sectors in the field of materials science and engineering, and neither has discretionary funds with which to conduct studies.
Materials Advisory Groups
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the National Research Council coordinate more fully and draw effectively on the materials interests and expertise available to it through the two Academies in order to strengthen its advisory capacity across the full spectrum of
materials topics, particularly where national policies or goals are at issue.
As part of the action recommended, the National Materials Advisory Board should continue to broaden its membership and materials coverage so as to serve a wider range of industries and governmental agencies. In addition, the Board and the Committee on Solid State Sciences should be recognized more fully as complementary bodies and utilized accordingly. Because of the recurring, need to identify national materials problems and opportunities, we expect that the Board and the Committee between them will become an important source of information and support for the newly established National Research Council Commissions on Societal Technologies, Natural Resources, and Peace and National Security. (Page 16)
Coordination of Activities by Professional Societies
Professionals in materials science and engineering are served by about 35 technical societies. Until recently there has been no mechanism to minimize overlaps in programming and otherwise coordinate the interests of materials professionals, many of whom must belong to several societies to cover their professional and technical needs. Formation of the Federation of Materials Societies in 1972, was a major progressive step; of the 17 broadly based societies invited to participate, nine had joined by October 1973.
Coordination of Professional Societies
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT professional societies concerned with materials coordinate their programming and information-distribution functions, and that the societies actively support and participate in the Federation of Materials Societies.
The Federation is a very promising mechanism for achieving a framework within which professionals in materials science and engineering will be able to recognize themselves as members of the field as a whole. Such cohesion will help attract well-qualified entrants to the field and will help ensure the proper allocation of resources to it by government and industry. The Federation in turn should offer its services to appropriate public and private bodies wherever it can be useful in matters involving materials. The Federation should also facilitate efforts among the societies to organize their work in technical programming, publications, and information-retrieval systems. A well-coordinated program is likewise required to increase public awareness of the underlying importance of materials in achieving national goals and of the role of materials science and engineering in securing the benefits of materials to mankind. (Pages 1–2, 23–33)
Greater Flexibility of Materials Manpower
Government, industry, and the universities interact in various ways that tend to increase the technical flexibility of materials (and other) scientists and engineers. Examples include joint academic-industrial
appointments and staff rotation, joint research projects, the Ford Foundation’s one-year industrial residency program, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Resident Industrial Scholarships for short-term appointments, and the Research Associates Program of the National Bureau of Standards. The extent of such interaction on a national scale, however, is not commensurate with its potential value.
Flexibility of Manpower
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT government, industry, and the universities pursue arrangements ranging from temporary exchanges in personnel to joint academic-industrial appointments in order to promote greater interaction and flexibility among materials scientists and engineers from the various sectors.
This recommendation could be implemented cooperatively by the Industrial Research Institute and the National Science Foundation. Precedents exist for the arrangements recommended, and they should be exploited in the materials field. Industry and government, for example, might look to the universities to become foci for national or regional pilot research programs and for specialized knowledge in materials science and engineering. The steps recommended also could serve usefully for state and local projects dealing with regional industries, technological planning, mass transit, special energy requirements, and environmental problems. (Pages 23–33)
Improved Statistics on Manpower and Funding
Serious shortcomings exist in the means for gathering statistics nationally on scientific and engineering manpower, employment, and associated resources. The data assembled by the Office of Education (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) on degrees awarded annually are not coordinated with those in engineering collected by the Engineering Manpower Commission. Both sets of data are inadequate for analyses of materials-designated and related degrees. The National Science Foundation’s National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel, which provided important data on manpower characteristics, has been discontinued. The NSF data on funding for education and for research and development are at a level of detail that limits their utility for long-range planning. The federal research-funding data gathered by the Interagency Council for Materials are likewise incompletely developed.
Manpower and Funding Statistics
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, with support from the National Science Foundation, reassess the national data-gathering mechanisms for manpower, employment, and funding in science and engineering and that they recommend to the Foundation the actions required to create an internally consistent system suitable for long-range planning on a disciplinary or multi-disciplinary basis.
Implementation of this recommendation should be initiated by the National Science Foundation and coordinated with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Department of Labor), the Office of Education, scientific and engineering societies, and other relevant groups. It is most important that the pertinent data be collected and organized in a form useful for analysis and planning in multidisciplinary areas such as materials science and engineering and the environmental sciences. A sound data base of the kind recommended is essential for effective federal planning and budgeting in the sciences, education, employment, and related areas. (Pages 30–41)