Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century


for this reportcommitteensb board membersacknowledment
Last Updated: 09/15/2015


Experimental and observational research depends upon the quality of the infrastructure and the tools that are accessible to the researcher. Modern tools provide more coverage, more precision and more accuracy for experiments and observations. Indeed, some modern tools open experimental vistas that are closed to those lacking modern infrastructure and tools.

Fueled by exponential growth in computing power, communication bandwidth, and data storage, the Nation's research infrastructure is increasingly characterized by interconnected, distributed systems of hardware, software, information bases, and expert systems. The new research tools arising from this activity enable scientists and engineers to be more productive and to approach more complex and different frontier tasks than they could in the past. Also, because of their distributed character, these tools are becoming more accessible to increasing numbers of researchers and educators across the nation, thus putting more ideas to work.

This change has created unprecedented challenges and opportunities for 21st century scientists and engineers. Consequently, in September 2000, the National Science Board established the Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure within its Committee on Programs and Plans. The Task Force was created to assess the current state of U.S. S&E academic research infrastructure, examine its role in enabling S&E advances, and identify requirements for a future infrastructure capability.

This report, Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century, presents the findings and recommendations developed by the task force and approved unanimously by the National Science Board. The report aims to inform the national dialogue on S&E infrastructure and highlight the role of NSF as well as the larger resource and management strategies of interest to Federal policymakers.

On behalf of the National Science Board, I wish to commend Dr. John White, the chair of the task force, and the other task force members - Dr. Anita Jones, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Dr. Michael Rossmann, Dr. Robert Richardson, and Dr. Mark Wrighton of the National Science Board, and Dr. Mary Clutter, NSF Assistant Director for Biological Sciences. Mr. Paul Herer of the NSF Office of Integrative Activities provided superb and tireless support as the Executive secretary to the task force.

The Board is especially grateful for the strong support provided throughout by the Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Rita Colwell, and by NSF's Deputy Director, Dr. Joseph Bordogna.

Warren M. Washington
Chair, National Science Board







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