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Suggested Citation:"5. Summary." National Research Council. 2003. Materials and Society: From Research to Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10721.
Page 27
Suggested Citation:"5. Summary." National Research Council. 2003. Materials and Society: From Research to Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10721.
Page 28

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5 1 Summary 1 The presentations, clisplays, ancl discussions held (luring the workshop emphasized the pivotal role of materials in enahlin~ n(1v~noP~ ~nr1 new terhnnl~ . ~ ~ :~ ~~~ in areas as diverse as national security, energy, vehicles, biomaterials, and optical networks anc! communications. Many presentations linker! past and ongoing materials successes with future needs for materials and revealer! fertile ground for future materials research and development. An opinion expressed frequently by many of the participants was that enhancing society's awareness of the role of materials in the technology people use every clay is crucial to creating a climate that will enable materials scientists and engineers to continue to make these contributions. It was suggester! that insufficient funcling and the clecline in the available workforce with training in physical sciences will limit progress in promising areas of materials research. Materials science ant! engineering is an amalgam of many of the physical sciences but with a specific focus on the application of science and engineering to materials ant! on the application of materials to science and engineering. The many studies ant! surveys discussed at the workshop documented the decrease in students, especially domestic students, studying these disciplines. Anecdotal eviclence presented by both large ant! small companies reinforcer} these observations. Reasons proposed at the workshop for the decline in the available workforce inclucle(1 funding shortfalls, a failure to engage potential students at the right time, the perception that the physical sciences are difficulty and the lone training period. Several presenters and discussants mentioned the interdisciplinary nature of materials science ant! engineering, which calls for students who are not only capable of such study but also willing to spend many years in on-thejob training to gain experience in the fiel(l. Several presentations reported that research funding for physical sciences has not grown at the same rate as that for the biological sciences. However, it was not made clear that funding parity was an appropriate goal instead it was stated that a "correct" level of funding, based on economic, societal, and technical needs, must be cletermined. The workshop iclentifiec! some unfilled research, development, ant! technology needs in the field. However, several speakers and participants at the workshop cliscussed the neec! for a more in-depth analysis. Some speakers referred to the NRC decacial survey on astronomy and astrophysics, citing its considerable usefulness to Congress in supporting research initiatives in that fielcl.~ The NRC published cleca(lal studies in materials science and engineering in 1974 ant! 1989 and in condensed matter ant! materials physics in 1999. Many aspects of the study of materials science and engineering over that time period were presented at the workshop, highlighting the changes in the field as it gained an identity and maturest into a O 'National Research Council, 2001, Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium, Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 27

MATERIALS AND SOCIETY respected field of study. Several presentations emphasized the increasing diversity of the field and the multi- and interdisciplinary expertise of the people who participate in materials science and engineering. ~ _ 1 _ _ _ _ 1 1 1 . Several speakers and panel members stated that a study identifying new directions In materials science and engineering and prioritizing materials research needs would be useful to both the community and the Congress. Like their colleagues who had previously assessed the field, these speakers viewed the understanding and application of the relationships among synthesis, process, structure, and properties of all materials the basis of materials science and engineering as key components. The status of education and the workforce in materials science and engineering was discussed throughout the workshop. The discussions ran the gamut from kindergarten through grade 12, technical training, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education and retraining of the current workforce. Many discussants provided anecdotes or suggested actions that could be taken to address the decreasing numbers of trained professionals and overall workforce deficiencies. However, these participants also suggested that a better assessment and definition of the supply and demand for persons with training in materials would benefit the field considerably. 1, ll ,, 28

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