The National Science Board released the 2008 Science and Engineering Indicators today at an event on Capitol Hill. Board Chair Steven Beering, Subcommittee Chair Louis Lanzerotti, and Arthur Reilly presented the Science and Engineering Indicators, the Digest of Key S&E Indicators, and a companion policy recommendation document, Research and Development: Essential Foundation for US Competitiveness in a Global Economy. Dr. Arden Bement and Dr. Kathie Olsen also attended the event and participated in the Q&A session at the end.
While the entire document can be found online, the event highlighted some specific findings of the 2008 S&E Indicators, including:
- world science and engineering activities are shifting from the US and Europe, the traditional leaders, to Asia.
- US share of high tech manufacturing has stayed above 30 percent over the last twenty years
- Two-thirds of US R&D funding comes from industry and only 28 percent is from the federal government
- 2007 had a major downward curve in constant dollars of federal support for academic research
- Defense research, mostly development, accounts for over half of all federal R&D
- Chinas PhD attainment is on a steep up curve but is still significantly below the US
- There has been an increase in S&E bachelors degrees in the US in all fields EXCEPT computing
- Most foreign born PhD candidates in the US plan to stay in the US
- 80 percent of the public supports federal funding of basic research and 40 percent believe there is too little federal funding of basic research
The policy companion piece includes three broad recommendations. They are:
- The federal government should take action to enhance the level of funding for, and the transformational nature of, basic research
- Industry, government, the academic sector, and professional organizations should take action to encourage greater intellectual interchange between industry and academia. Industry researchers should also be encouraged to participate as authors and reviewers for articles in open, peer-reviewed publications.
- New data are critically needed to track the implications for the US economy of the globalization of manufacturing and services in high technology industries, and this need should be addressed expeditiously by relevant federal agencies.
During the Q&A, Bement said that investment in basic research drives the economy and that it is not just dollars but also talent. In response to a question about why students would go into science and engineering instead of fields with better job prospects, Olsen said that the data found that demand for science and engineering majors in industry is increasing but students dont realize the options that are out there for a science or engineering degree.