The publications below are releases of the National Academy of Engineering’s Program on Engineering Economics and Society. Most publications are for sale by the National Academies Press and can be read online for free. Visit www.nap.edu for additional details.
Rebuilding a Real Economy: Unleashing Engineering Innovation
At the 2009 Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Engineering in Irvine, California, a public forum entitled 'Rebuilding a Real Economy: Unleashing Engineering Innovation' brought together seven prominent leaders of the innovation system to discuss the challenges facing America. The insights of the panel members cut to the heart of what this nation needs to do to remain a global leader in the turbulent world of the 21st century.
This summary captures the main points made by the forum participants with the aim of encouraging further reflection and discussion. As the panelists pointed out, no single action can reenergize our innovation system. A portfolio of interconnected and interdependent initiatives must be undertaken to generate new knowledge and technology and move that new knowledge successfully into a competitive world marketplace. But the panelists clarified the goal toward which we must strive and some of the most important steps we need to take to achieve that goal.
Systems Engineering to Improve Traumatic Brain Injury Care in the Military Health System (2009)
A new workshop summary from the National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine discusses potential tools and techniques for improving the care of patients with traumatic brain injury in the Military Health System. The summary includes working group deliberations with specific suggestions for undertaking operational systems engineering (OSE) studies and analyses. OSE engineers use mathematical techniques to understand and improve operations involving a wide variety of complex interactions among people, processes, materials, equipment, facilities and more. Free PDF available through the National Academies Press.
The Offshoring of Engineering: Facts, Unknowns, and Potential Implications (2008)
This report summarizes a workshop on the offshoring of engineering held in October 2006. Offshoring, the transfer of work from the United States to entities abroad, has grown significantly in recent years and is transforming U.S. engineering. While offshoring is benefiting many U.S.-based companies and contributing to the creation and retention of U.S. engineering jobs in several industries, the impact on careers across the U.S. engineering work force is uneven, requiring further study and attention to those negatively affected. The long-term implications for U.S. engineering are also not clear, as significant gaps in the data on trade in services and employment make it difficult to assess the net effects of offshoring on the U.S. engineering work force.
Information and Communication Technology and Peacebuilding: Summary of a Workshop (2008)
Those who would use information and communication technology (ICT) in the cause of peace need to be cognizant of the risks as well as the benefits. ICT can facilitate positive dialogue but also hate speech. It can be used to fight corruption but also facilitate it. Simply giving people more information does not necessarily lead to predictable or positive results. As people become more informed, they may become more motivated to change their circumstances and to do so violently. On December 14, 2007, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) convened a group of experts in diverse fields to consider the role of ICT in promoting peace and conflict resolution. The one-day workshop was designed to consider current and emerging technologies and strategies for employing them in conflict management and diplomacy. It also aimed to explore how organizations with a role in promoting peace, like the U.S. Institute of Peace, can most effectively leverage technology in carrying out their missions.
Building a Better Delivery System: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership (2005)
This joint study by the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine includes findings and recommendations for building a strong partnership between engineers and health care professionals to address the crises facing health care delivery in the United States. The report focuses on two major applications of systems-engineering tools: (1) systems design, analysis, and control tools to promote a better understanding of health care processes and interactions and improve system performance within the severe constraints of a crisis situation; and (2) information and communications technologies to facilitate information flow, connectivity at all levels (patients, care teams, health care organizations, and the larger regulatory and financial environment), and coordinated, patient-centered health care. In addition to the committee's consensus report, this volume includes 38 individually authored papers based on presentations given at three fact-finding workshops. The papers address not only operational challenges confronting the U.S. health care delivery system, but also opportunities for improving the use of information technology (e.g., biosensors and wireless communications, and remote monitoring) and systems engineering (e.g., human factors engineering, financial engineering, supply-chain management, and modeling and simulation). Press Release
Technological Options for User-Authorized Handguns: A Technology-Readiness Assessment (2005)
It could take as long as 10 years and cost as much as $30 million to bring a user-authorized handgun to the commercial marketplace. This is a major conclusion of the 11-member Committee on User-Authorized Handguns, which conducted an engineering-focused feasibility analysis. User-authorized handguns are firearms that can only be operated by designated individuals. To work reliably, sensor technology must be integrated with locking and firing mechanisms. The committee found that limited research has been done on a variety of biometric and nonbiometric technologies, but no development efforts to date have moved beyond the bread-board stage. In addition, most research has come to a halt for lack of funding and, in some cases, lack of interest. The committee considered handguns for two broad categories of users: law enforcement personnel and individuals who store and use firearms at home. The law enforcement application has more stringent technical requirements because weapons are often used under adverse conditions, such as rain, mud, blood, and extreme temperatures; in addition, operators may be wearing gloves. The committee concluded that no current biometric technology is completely suitable for use in firearms. The technology that comes closest to satisfying all of the requirements is radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which is not a truly biometric technology.
Engineering Research and America’s Future: Meeting the Challenges of a Global Economy (2005)
With funding from the National Science Foundation, NAE convened a committee of engineering leaders during the summer of 2004 to conduct (1) an assessment of the past and potential impact of the U.S. engineering research enterprise on the nation’s economy, quality of life, security, and global leadership; and (2) to determine whether the level of public and private investment is sufficient to sustain U.S. preeminence in basic engineering research. The committee documented and evaluated recent contributions of U.S.-based engineering research to critical national interests; assessed the potential contributions of engineering research to emerging national challenges and opportunities; and outlined a national strategy for ensuring that the engineering research foundations of American global economic, military, scientific, and technological preeminence remain solid in the face of rapid, often disruptive, societal and global change. Findings and recommendations are intended to inform public-sector and private-sector decision making regarding the scale and allocation of investments in engineering research, engineering research infrastructure, and engineering education. Implementation of the committee’s recommendations should strengthen the U.S. engineering research enterprise and ensure that engineering research continues to contribute to U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and global technological leadership.
Accident Precursor Analysis and Management: Reducing Technological Risk Through Diligence (2004)
In the aftermath of catastrophes, it is common to find prior indicators, missed signals, and dismissed alerts that, had they been recognized and appropriately managed before the event, could have resulted in the undesired event being averted, these typically can be called "precursors". The report of a July 2003 NAE workshop documents various industrial and academic approaches to detecting, analyzing, and benefiting from accident precursors and examines public-sector and private-sector roles in the collection and use of precursor information. The report includes the analysis, findings and recommendations of the authoring NAE committee as well as eleven individually authored background papers on the opportunity of precursor analysis and management, risk assessment, risk management, and linking risk assessment and management. Press Release
Owner-Authorized Handguns: A Workshop Summary (2003)
The feasibility and potential impact of so-called smart handguns has generated considerable public interest and debate. This report summarizes a June 2002 workshop at the National Academy of Engineering that examined three related issues: the state of technology for owner-authorized handguns; the role of product liability in the development and marketing of such firearms; and the potential impact of these smart guns on health and crime. Smart-gun technology has the potential to prevent unintended or undesirable uses of handguns, such as accidental shootings; the shooting of police officers by assailants using the officers’ own weapons; suicides; homicides with stolen handguns; and other gun-related crimes. However, information presented at the workshop suggests that considerably more research is needed to bring a reliable and commercially viable product to the marketplace. The report also notes that the impact of smart-guns will be influenced by legal issues, human behavior, economic conditions, and other factors.
The Impact of Academic Research on Industrial Performance (2003)
Drawing on the findings of sector-specific workshops, e-mail surveys, research literature, expert testimony, and committee and panel member expertise, this study by the National Academy of Engineering assesses the qualitative impact of academic research on five industries--network systems and communications; medical devices and equipment; aerospace; transportation, distribution, and logistics services; and financial services. The report documents the range and significance of academic research contributions to the five industries, comparing the importance of different types of contributions (e.g., research-trained graduates, fundamental concepts and key ideas based on basic and applied research, tools, prototypes, products, and services), the multi- and interdisciplinary nature of these contributions (spanning many fields of engineering, the natural sciences, and the social and behavioral sciences), and the multiple vectors by which academic research is linked to each industry. The report calls for action to address six cross-cutting challenges to university-industry interactions: the growing disciplinary and time-horizon-related imbalances in federal R&D funding; barriers to university-industry interaction in services industries; the critical role of academic research in the advancement of information technology; the role of academic research in the regulation of industry; the impact of technology-transfer activities on core university research and education missions; and the search for new pathways and mechanisms to enhance the contributions of academic research to industry. The report also includes findings and recommendations specific to each industry. Press Release
Concerning Federally Sponsored Inducement Prizes in Engineering and Science (1999)
Reviews the use of inducement prize contests to advance technical innovation. Recommends that Congress encourage federal agencies to experiment with using inducement prize contests to support technology research and development.
Technology Transfer Systems in the United States and Germany: Lessons and Perspectives (1997)
The product of a bi-national study panel organized by the NAE and the German Fraunhofer Society, this volume maps the technology transfer landscape in each country in detail, uses case studies to examine the dynamics of technology transfer in four major technology areas, and identifies areas and opportunities for further mutual learning between the two national systems.
Other recent publications from the National Academy of Engineering