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institutions generally the very best go into research and into teaching. But the majority of them enter industry, and it is on behalf of these students that I want to speak.
They are the ones that form our future technological base, and we have to provide for them the very best education and training that we are able to provide.
Our concern is not the quantity of those students but rather their quality and the quality of education that they receive. The quality is directly determined by two factors. First of all, the faculty who instruct them, and second, the tools that faculty have available to do the job, that is, the scientific equipment that they have available. It is the latter that is my concern today.
When I was an undergraduate much of the scientific equipment we had was of the string and sealing wax variety, and World War II changed that dramatically. After World War IÌ we saw increasingly sophisticated equipment in scientific teaching laboratories. The acceleration of that development has been very rapid in the last decade and we simply cannot keep up.
The Association of Independent Engineering Colleges made a survey a year ago of our general position with regard to scientific and engineering equipment—we left out Cal-Tech and MIT because they are predominantly research institutions and therefore are atypical from the rest of us. But in those 14 member institutions we estimated that we have $41,500,000 invested in laboratory equipment, with a replacement value of $58 million.
We estimated further that the lifetime of that equipment was about 61/2 years.
In 1978 we had 30,000 undergraduates in science and engineering, and we awarded about 6,000 degrees in that year. So that if one takes $58 million and divides by 6,000, the number that were graduated, and again by the replacement period of 6.5 years roughly $1,500 per graduate would be needed for replacement of obsolete equipment alone.
Now, in my small institution, where we graduate over 100 scientists and engineers a year, that means well over $150,000 a year for simply updating of laboratory equipment. We cannot meet that kind of a need.
What kind of scientific or engineering equipment is dramatically needed? One of the principal needs is computers. For engineering instruction, the need is in a very specialized area of computers; that is, computer graphics and computer-assisted design.
If you recall the first segment of the Bronowski program on the Ascent of Man, he showed a human skull; the skull as it was discovered in prehistoric times and how it has evolved through history. He showed that evolution with computer graphics and showed the skull gradually evolving into its modern form. That was a classic example of how you can see trends and shifts with the aid of computer graphics.
Industry is applying computer graphics to manufacturing and production at a much more rapid rate than anyone could imagine. To our left in this room I see a model of a building, a refinery, I suppose, really a pilot plant. You might be interested to know that industry is now designing such plants through computer graphics. Engineers are able to place the pipes; they are able to actually construct that building on computer before they actually begin the construction.
Such computer-assisted design can be used throughout science and engineering education, but is not yet done except in a very few institutions. For example: an electronic circuit, it is very easy for a student to sit down in front of a computer graphic terminal and analyze in several hours a multitude of circuits. Before the availability of graphics the student had to grind these out by hand or actually construct the boards. He can now increase his productivity.
A second example might be the landing gears for aircraft. They previously had to be actually constructed before they could be tested in the aircraft, but now they can be designed with computer graphics, thus increasing the productivity of the engineers who are involved with that activity. This dramatic change in the way engineers are doing their work has been described by some as a metamorphic change in the way knowledge is applied. It is one area where science and engineering colleges are lagging very far behind. But we have needs for sophisticated instrumentation everywhere, in chemistry, in physics, and particularly now in biology; in each of these areas there is an important link with industry.
Now, to address our needs, let me say a few words about NSF funding. I have no quarrel with the level of research funding in the National Science Foundation; we will mortgage our future if we reduce our funding for research. Science education funding, however, is quite a different story. For 20 years National Science Foundation funding for science education has decreased as a percentage of NSF funding; down from 40 percent in 1957 to about 10 percent at present. Over the last 10 years alone, the dollar, the actual dollar support, has declined by more than 30 percent. At the same time we have increased their program responsibilities. It places education in an impossible situation. They cannot respond to the critical needs that we have now before us.
If we wish to see productivity in this Nation increase over the next few years, we must turn our attention to the tools used by future scientists and engineers and I urge you to seek additional authorization for science education funding.
I would be pleased to try and address questions.
TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE
SCIENCE RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY
February 19, 1980
D. K. BAKER PRESIDENT, HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE
I am privileged to be asked to present these comments to the
Subcommittee on Science and Technology.
As president of an engineering
and science college, I experience firsthand the changing conditions
which have formed the opinions I express in this report.
During the past five years Americans have been awarded 21 of the 32
Nobel prizes (and shared prizes) awarded in physics, chemistry, medicine,
and physiology. Predominately the awardees were products of American
undergraduate and graduate institutions and American research.
tempting to applaud the result, to glow in self-satisfaction, and to
cheer the National Science Foundation (and other agencies) for providing
the wherewithal needed for research.
The success of research is clearly in evidence, but in looking
beyond that success we see disquieting signs that not all is well with
the national activity which is derived from science in general and from
National productivity is declining.
In three of the
quarters of 1979 productivity was negative, and the
year's results repeated the negative performance of
The results since 1973 are:
Since 1948, Real Gross Product has shown a decline:
home-sound and television), clothing, and steel are com
petive product areas where innovative productivity galas
have provided a critical advantage to foreign industry.
Professor Kendrick of George Washington University has
"The most important source of productivity growth
is the advance of technological knowledge when applied
to the ways and means of production through cost
that "informal inventive and innovative activity,
including the myriad small technological improve
ments devised by plant managers, (engineers,) and
workers, was the chief source of technological
progress in the nineteenth century and is still
significant" ... (but has)
(33% over the period of this study).
The Committee is already aware, from previous testimony, of the first
three of these effects.
I wish to bring your attention to the last point
for I am involved with the education of the people who will produce the