working together, industry and academia can solve some big problems.
there are many interesting aspects of university-based engineering
research, two issues seem to be generating the must buzz at the
beginning of the new millennium. One is attracting more domestic
students to graduate study in engineering, to doctoral programs
in particular; the other is enhancing industry-university research
partnerships and industry funding of university-based research.
Interest in these topics is driven to a large extent by the dramatic
increase in industry support of engineering research and development
over the past several years. Inflation-adjusted data reported by
the National Science Foundation and the American Association for
the Advancement of Science indicate that since fiscal year 1994,
federal funding of R&D has remained essentially flat, while
R&D funded by private industry in the U.S. has increased by
more than 40 percent.
This rather dramatic increase in industry-support carries two major
implications for universities. Schools need to produce for research-oriented
grads to fill industry's needs. And they need to make themselves
more competitive for research projects that companies outsource.
It is important to make clear exactly what the problem
is in terms of the domestic graduate student issue. U.S. citizens
are not enrolling in engineering doctoral programs in sufficient
numbers to fill all of the needs of industry and academia.
There can be no doubt that we must find ways to make graduate studies
and careers in engineering research more attractive to U.S. students.
Women and minority students, in particular, are important targets.
The fact is, however, that the many international students who choose
to stay and work in this country after receiving their graduate
degrees are playing a major role in meeting the nation's need
for research-trained graduates. It may be useful for us to data
on this other kind of domestic student: those who are not U.S. citizens
while enrolled in the graduate program but who subsequently become
As for the second implication of increased industry-sponsored R&D,
there are many compelling reasons for universities to work more
closely with industry. More financial support through collaborative
research efforts is an obvious benefit, but such activity also broadens
the relevance and applicability of the university's research.
This is particularly desirable at a time when an increasing percentage
of doctoral students are going into industry.
Both of these important topics were discussed at length at the Engineering
Research Council summit, a biennial event held in odd-numbered years
in conjunction with ASEE's Engineering Research Council's
annual meeting. Most participants at the February summitwhile
acknowledging the efforts of many industry- university-government
groupsexpressed frustration with persistent barriers that
prevent them from working more closely with industry. In describing
those barriers, the deans cited differences over intellectual property
policy, and publication rights, proper handling of proprietary information,
and the unwillingness on the part of many companies to accept indirect
costs as real costs.
Summit participants recognized that these are not new problems,
and that ERC is not the only group trying to address them. There
was a general consensus, however, that engineering research at universities
faces very serious problems, and that the ERC must play an active
role in helping resolve them.
J. Altiero is chair of ASEE's Engineering Research Council
and dean of engineering at Tulane University.
Deadline: Sep. 1
Description: Two-year collaborative research projects that link
individual U.S. scientists with their counterparts in Estonia, Latvia,
Contact: Office of International Affairs/DSC, (202) 334-2644; fax
(202) 334-2614; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Infrastructure Technology Fellowships RC Twinning Program
Amount: $25,000-$50,000, typically
Deadline: Sep. 1
Description: Research and education projects that focus on computer-related
communications technology, public communications policy, and domestic
communications regulatory issues
Contact: Stuart Winkelman, director, e-mail: email@example.com;
or see www.canyonresearch.org
Naval Research Postdoctoral Fellowships
Number: 30 per year
Deadline: Jan 1; Apr 1; Jul 1; Oct 1
Description: To increase the involvement of highly trained U.S.
scientists and engineers in disciplines to meet the evolving needs
of naval technology
Contact: Noah Weiss (202) 331-3509; fax (202) 265- 8504; e-mail:
are reprinted from GrantSelect, the online version of the Grants
Database published by Oryx Press; A one-year subscription to www.grantselect.com
costs $1,000. Used with permission from The Oryx Press, 4041 N.
Central Ave., Suite 700, Phoenix, AZ 85012; (800) 279-6799; www.oryxpress.com.
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