This fall the American Academy of Arts & Sciences released a 154-page report reinforcing many of the findings and recommendations of the 2005 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. A 25-member committee cochaired by Norman Augustine and Neal Lane warns that the United States is losing ground to international competitors that are ramping up investments in science and technology. A major focus of the report is the importance of basic research and the need for the federal government to increase its level of support on a sustained basis. “If our nation does not act quickly to shore up its scientific enterprise, it will squander the advantage it has long held as an engine of innovation that generates new discoveries and stimulates job growth,” the committee concluded.
The committee recommends that the federal government increase its investment in basic research by “a sustainable real growth rate of at least 4 percent,” an annual rate comparable to the average growth rate between 1975 and 1992. National R&D investment from all sources should total at least 3.3 percent. The report offers three overarching prescriptions with accompanying budgetary and action items. A 26-page Executive Summary is available here.
Early this year the Defense Materials Manufacturing and Infrastructure Standing Committee, acting under the auspices of the National Research Council, convened a two-day workshop to examine “the impact of big data on materials and manufacturing.” A 77-page report was recently issued summarizing the discussions of the 50 workshop participants. Challenges and potential improvements in the following six themes were discussed: “data availability; data size: ‘big data’ vs. data; quality and veracity of data and models; data and metadata ontology and formats; metadata and model availability; and culture.”
In summarizing the workshop’s objective, the report states: “Much of the workshop discussion was driven by an overarching assumption: The materials science community would benefit from appropriate access to data and metadata for materials development, processing, application development, and application life cycles. Currently, that access does not appear to be sufficiently widespread, and many participants captured the constraints and identified potential improvements to enable broader access to materials and manufacturing data and metadata.”