Nanogears PHOTO A Short History of NSF NSF50 LOGONATIONAL SCIENCE  & TECHNOLOGY WEEK APRIL 25 - MAY 1, 1999
 

CONTENTS    


What is NSF50?

Where
Discoveries
Begin

Participating
in NSF50

A Note From the Director

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1940s  Vannevar Bush’s  Science—
The Endless Frontier
calls for the establishment of a National Research Foundation.

1950s On May 10, 1950, President Harry S. Truman signs Public Law 507, creating the National Science Foundation. Following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957, there is palpable national fear that the U.S. is losing its technological lead to the Soviets. NSF undergoes tremendous growth as worries about science and math education rise.

1960s NSF continues to grow and devotes 25 percent of its budget to science and math education. The universities, primary recipients of NSF research grant awards, continue to grow too.

1970s NSF focuses an increasing share of its funding on research, making between 6,000 and 8,000 grant awards annually. A twenty-five year review results in broad consensus for continued support, suggests changes in NSF’s merit review process, and opens up and clarifies its operation.

1980s NSF identifies engineering as a high priority and makes awards for the first Engineering Research Centers. Basic research in science and technology receives major funding increases as its importance to the Nation becomes ever clearer.

1990s The connections among science and technology advances and economic progress are clearly drawn, demonstrating the benefits from NSF funding. Nearly 34,000 promising graduate students in science, math, and engineering receive NSF fellowship support. The agency receives 30,000 proposals each year; an extremely rigorous competitive review process results in the funding of approximately one-third of the applications.