NSF PR 00-42 (NSB 00-128) - June 19, 2000
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Science and Engineering "In Transition" as a New Century
Science and Engineering (S&E)
Indicators 2000 released
Increasing globalization of research and development
(R&D) and the prolific growth of information technology
(IT) are major elements in a "science and engineering
enterprise that is in transition," the National Science
Board (NSB) said in its biennial report to the President
and Congress on the nation's status in science and
Several NSB members gathered at the National Press
Club today to discuss key issues in Science and
Engineering Indicators 2000, the first report
of the new century and the first-ever two-volume edition.
The NSB, governing body of the National Science Foundation
(NSF), the independent U.S. federal agency responsible
for support to most areas of science and engineering,
says that much has changed since President Harry S.
Truman signed the bill creating NSF in 1950. The new
law established NSF's mission: "to promote the progress
of science; to advance the national health, prosperity
and welfare...and for other purposes."
The new S&E Indicators report emphasizes
a changing context for NSF, and for science and engineering,
"Today, it is much more of an international landscape
in S&E," said Science Board chair Eamon Kelly.
According to Kelly, there has been rapid worldwide
growth and emphasis in science and technology, heightened
by broad collaboration among nations. Recognizing
the trend, the NSB devoted portions of each of the
nine chapters in the new S&E Indicators
to international comparisons and global patterns in
science, engineering, education and technology.
The report describes growing evidence of how fundamental
science has contributed to a stronger U.S. economy,
and how IT has had a major impact on all facets of
society. It also says that the impact is unequal within
many segments of the national economy and in education,
leaving these parts of American society bereft of
IT's advantages, and creating a "digital divide."
Among highlights reported in S&E Indicators
- Industrial R&D Performance - predominantly
"development" - grew by only 0.7 percent per
year in inflation-adjusted ("real") terms
from 1985 through 1994. But in the five
years from 1994 through 1998, the annual industry
R&D growth rate climbed to 7.6 percent. (Chapter
- Information technology (IT) industries generated
an estimated 29 percent of the real growth in
the U.S.' Gross Domestic Income in 1998. (Chapter
- The linkage between research and perceived
economic benefit is "getting tighter." Patents
citing at least one article that contributed
materially to the process or product to be patented
rose from 14 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in
1996. The overall number of article citations
on existing patents increased explosively - more
than doubling in number from 1996 to 1998,
and reaching 108,300 total for 1998. (Chapter
Among the work force and education trends, S&E
Indicators 2000 finds:
- The number of retirements among college-educated
workers in S&E will increase dramatically
over the next 10 to 15 years, especially among
Ph.D. holders. Meanwhile, the expected
demand for S&E workers overall is expected
to greatly increase in the decade between 1998-2008.
S&E occupations are projected to grow at almost
four times the rate of all other occupations.
- S&E graduate school enrollments in the
U.S. declined from 1993 to 1997 (an average
of two percent annually) following increases throughout
the previous four decades. However, demographic
data shows a reversal in 2001 to a two-decade-long
U.S. population decline among college-age students
that may help reverse the graduate enrollment
trend. (Chapter 4);
- Despite increasing percentages of high school
graduates who reported taking higher level math
and science courses, 22 percent of first-year
college students in 1997 who indicated an intent
to major in science or engineering reported that
they needed some remedial work in mathematics.
- Dramatic increases have occurred among U.S.
school districts to provide access for students
and teachers to new forms of technology, but
in a 1998 survey, only one teacher in five
felt "very well prepared" to integrate technology
in the subject they taught (Chapter 5).
The two-volume edition of S&E Indicators 2000
also includes for the first time a CD-ROM that provides
access to the entire report and data tables in a spreadsheet
The National Science Foundation develops S&E
Indicators for the NSB through NSF's Division
of Science Resources Studies. The final report is
submitted to the President, who transmits it to Congress.