Arthur M. Bueche Award

2020 Arthur M. Bueche Award Acceptance Remarks

Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr. 
2020 Arthur M. Bueche Award Winner 
Acceptance Remarks

Thank you Vice President Brierley for your generous introduction. I wish also to express my thanks to the Bueche family, the awards selection committee, and President Anderson, who notified me of my selection. This award is especially meaningful to me because it is named for a giant in scientific research, technology commercialization, and R&D policy, Arthur M Bueche.

I worked at the G.E. Hanford Laboratories in Richland, Washington from 1954 to 1964 when Guy Suits was director of the G.E. Research Laboratory. Although I did not meet Dr. Bueche during that time, I did sit next to him at a banquet shortly before his untimely death in 1981.

We spent part of this memorable dinner discussing the satisfaction of working in the space between discovery and application where innovations are seeded, the value of learning by doing and studying successful leaders, and the satisfactions that can come from traversing several learning curves during a career.

Our discussion encouraged me to continue my career of directing R&D programs within the Bueche triangle at the confluence of government, industry, and university R&D. These partnerships have included advanced energy technologies, advanced materials for space and defense systems, computer-integrated design and manufacturing, high-speed integrated circuits, high-temperature superconductors, and policy research and development.  

My 37-year membership in the NAE has greatly reinforced this career path by offering many learning curves. It enabled me to serve on four NRC boards, chair the National Materials Advisory Board and the Commission for Engineering and Technical Systems, and participate in over 20 funded studies.  Friendships and working relationships I have had with members of the three academies have been of great value throughout my career.

Since the “rust-belt” contraction of the 1960s and 70s, there have been major developments within the Bueche triangle.  For example:

  • Industries have increasingly located technology development centers and subsidiaries near universities and government labs both in the U.S. and abroad to facilitate R&D partnerships and enhance customer relationships.
  • Some government-funded research centers at leading universities now involve multiple collaborating universities and foreign investigators.
  • An increasing number of peer-reviewed journal publications by U.S. researchers are coauthored with international collaborators.
  • Research universities now not only operate research parks but also provide innovation centers and foundries for their students to fast-prototype their inventions with computer modeling and additive manufacturing.
  •  A few leading research universities can now spawn up to 100 new startups per year.
  •  And some universities have established faculty and student exchanges with universities abroad in innovation and entrepreneurship. The partnership between MIT and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology near Moscow is a prime example.

These developments and many more have substantially contributed to compressing the transition time from discovery to market to about half or less of what it was 50 years ago. 

Arthur Bueche, who was a steadfast champion of building the nation’s economy through the convergence of R&D in the Bueche triangle would have been delighted with these outcomes.

In closing, I wish to thank the nominator and supporters for my award. My nominator was Norman Augustine, former CEO and chair of Lockheed Martin.  My supporters were:

  • Craig Barrett, retired CEO and chair of Intel Corporation;
  • France Córdova, president emerita of Purdue University, and former director of NSF;
  • Edward Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering, MIT, and founding president of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology;
  • Richard Meserve, senior counsel, Covington and Burling LLP, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and president emeritus of the Carnegie Institute for Science;
  • Hratch Semerjian, former acting director and chief scientist of the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and
  •  Henry Yang, chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

My gratitude to these great leaders and admiration of their impacts on our nation’s research and development base runs deep. I want to give special thanks to John Grundy of Purdue’s College of Engineering who provided my nominator and supporters with needed information.  And to all NAE members I give special tanks for this wonderful award.