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Fact Sheet

Excerpts: Science and Engineering Indicators 2002

April 30, 2002

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.


Research and Development (R&D)

"The United States has managed to turn its R&D strengths to its economic and commercial benefit. Industry's recognition of the importance of research and development to profit growth is reflected in the strong expansion of its own R&D spending (in the 1990s)." - From Overview - See Chapter 4

"Changes in antitrust regulations, intellectual property policy, and technology transfer have fostered a new setting for collaborative research since the early 1980s. These changes have paralleled policy and market trends in other advanced economies, contributing to a national and global economy increasingly dependent on knowledge-based competition and networking." - From Chapter 4

Global economic impact

"Governments and firms around the world have taken note of ...perceived U.S. strengths (and) initiated broad, national and regional efforts to capture similar benefits...these developments have reflected a growing conviction that some kind of new reality...a "knowledge-based" economy (that is) marked by the systematic generation, distribution, and use of research knowledge for economic gain..." From Overview - See Chapter 6

"The current position of the United States as the world's leading producer of high-technology products reflects its success in both supplying a large domestic market and serving foreign markets…The same conditions that create new business opportunities-the growing global technological capacity and the relaxation of restrictions on international business-can also create new research opportunities. The well-funded institutes and technology-oriented universities that are being established in many technologically emerging areas of the world will advance scientific and technological knowledge and lead to new collaborations between U.S. and foreign researchers." - From Chapter 6

"More R&D collaborations can be expected to develop with Internet-facilitated innovations such as virtual research laboratories and the simultaneous use of distributed virtual data banks by investigators around the globe." - From Chapter 4

Foreign-born scientists and engineers

"As new centers of technological excellence arise, firms and universities in the United States may find it increasingly difficult to recruit scientists and engineers from abroad... foreign students may increasingly return home after their training, and U.S. firms may find it advantageous to locate technically sophisticated functions overseas. These potential developments bear watching, because they would affect U.S. policies that support S&T and the education and training of the domestic S&E workforce." - From Overview - See Chapters 2-3

"Natural sciences and engineering (NS&E) command special attention because of their importance to the conduct of much of the nation's R&D and to the development of industrial innovation. Other countries are building up the NS&E capabilities of their younger cohorts at a greater rate than the United States...They have been able to raise-by large increments-the rate at which their college-age youth earn first university NS&E degrees." - From Overview

"Each year from 1986 to 1996, the number of foreign students earning S&E doctoral degrees from universities in the United States increased; it declined every year thereafter." - From Chapter 2

"Although the number of foreign doctoral recipients planning to stay in the United States increased in the 1990s, opportunities are expanding for returning to their home countries or for collaborative research and networking with home-country scientists." - From Chapter 2

Potential impacts of international growth in science and engineering

"If other countries and regions build up their indigenous S&T capabilities, they may diminish the relative attractiveness of the United States as a destination country."

"If (other countries) can build indigenous S&T infrastructures and economies to exploit the fruits of S&T, domestic labor market needs may entice more of their scientists and engineers to stay at home rather than to seek work abroad. They may also attract investments from foreign firms seeking access to their labor and markets. Thus, traditional donor countries may be able to moderate the outflow of their scientists and engineers.

"If other countries begin looking abroad to supplement their labor pools, particularly in high technology areas, the United States may have more difficulty attracting and retaining foreign scientists and engineers." - From Overview

Ph.D. impact of women/minorities/non-citizens

"At the highest level of S&E training, the United States has relied heavily on non-citizens, U.S. women, and small but growing numbers of minority students of both sexes to sustain its degree production...without (their) increasing participation the number of S&E doctorates would have stagnated or declined. The reasons for the relative disappearance of U.S. majority males from these fields, including lack of interest and the attractiveness and availability of alternatives, remain largely unexplored." - From Overview, See Chapter 2

K-16 Education

"Despite greater numbers of students aiming for college, some college faculty are concerned that today's students are less well prepared in mathematics than previous generations of students. College-level remediation is also on the rise, and policymakers are increasingly concerned about the number of students needing to take remedial courses in college." - Chapter 1



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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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