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US R&D effort stagnating

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US R&D effort stagnating

Postby kurt_w » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:39 am

Scientific research and development (R&D) funding in the US is expected to decrease over the next decade:

Washington Post: The coming R&D crash

That's particularly true for government-sponsored research, but as I understand it, it's also true of private-sector research.

To some extent, Americans will continue to benefit from R&D spending by other countries. South Korea, Australia, and China have been increasing their R&D funding in recent years, and are projected to invest much, much more over the next decade:

Image

By 2020, South Korea will be spending almost twice as much as the US on total R&D (public + private sector, as a percentage of GDP), and Australia and China will have caught up to the US.

It's better to have R&D done overseas than to not have it done at all, I suppose. Technological innovation will benefit the whole world, not just the countries that pay for it. But those benefits won't accrue equally everywhere, and the US is at risk of losing its half-century-old edge in science and engineering.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:58 am

Technological development elsewhere would surely benefit the U.S. even more if we were actually giving our nation's youth the tools needed to understand the science behind those developments.

This graph depicting "report cards" evaluating the sorry state of science education state-by-state is one of the most depressing things I've seen in a long time:
Image

You can read all about Wisconsin's F grade (the worst in our neck of the woods, no less) here.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Detritus » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:34 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:This graph depicting "report cards" evaluating the sorry state of science education state-by-state is one of the most depressing things I've seen in a long time:
Image

You can read all about Wisconsin's F grade (the worst in our neck of the woods, no less) here.

That is not a report on science education in Wisconsin. It's a report on the "clarity and rigor" of the official K-12 science standards, the broad guidelines for schools and teachers to follow when crafting specific curricula, unit plans, and lesson plans. None of the standards have the features that group is looking for, because they are designed to allow local control of the curriculum at the school/district level, and individual tailoring to the student body at the classroom level. To get an A, Wisconsin would have to implement a detailed, statewide science curriculum that could be assessed with standardized exams--such as the ones developed, by sheer coincidence, by that organization's "research" arm.

It's not worth worrying about, except as further evidence of the encroachment of NCLB/RTTT corporatization of public education.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:43 pm

Points well taken, Detritus, and thanks for the clarifications.

But forgive me if it only makes me feel a little bit better. There's still a deplorable lack of science education in this country and in our state. And I stand by my fear that falling behind the rest of the developed world in both basic science education and R&D, coupled with an increase in belief in religious, superstitious, and pseudoscientific nonsense (the opposite of the trend in Europe and other players in science and technology fields) does not bode well for our nation's future.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Detritus » Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:54 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Points well taken, Detritus, and thanks for the clarifications.

But forgive me if it only makes me feel a little bit better. There's still a deplorable lack of science education in this country and in our state. And I stand by my fear that falling behind the rest of the developed world in both basic science education and R&D, coupled with an increase in belief in religious, superstitious, and pseudoscientific nonsense (the opposite of the trend in Europe and other players in science and technology fields) does not bode well for our nation's future.

On this I completely agree. Not just STEM education, but the humanities and social sciences as well. One area that needs a fundamental rethink, in my opinion, is teacher education which, with a few exceptions, takes people two years out of high school, wastes up to three more years of their life with busywork, and then turns them loose on our children. NCLB/RTTT standardized curriculum and testing will make these people slightly more productive, in a student-as-widget sense, but it will only worsen their training. See, for example, Pearson's Teacher Proficiency Assessment system, coming very soon to Wisconsin, that turns teacher assessment from a state/local personnel issue into an annual, national, multiple-choice test graded by minimum-wage contractors.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Toonces » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:01 pm

Huh, I've been busy as hell designing multiple R&D facilities for NIH (which I am not at liberty to discuss) USDA, and the DOE. These are some major R&D labs with technologies never seen before in the US. It makes sense to me that we are currently in the high level of the spending trend since all the grants to do research in these facilities will not even come close to the amounts spent on the facilities themselves. The paragraph about the NIH grants is misleading: they just had a huge boom in research grant funding corresponding to new facilities. Now, if the grant funding for new research does truly drop off, then we're in trouble. But again, the amounts spent on these facilities in recent years is truly staggering so the curve will naturally level off after this major growth.

This has been my (favorite) baby that I've been designing in recent years. It features cutting edge research for smart power grids, energy storage systems, and fuel cell development (just to name a few)

http://www.nrel.gov/esi/esif.html
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Mad Howler » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:59 am

Toonces wrote:Huh, I've been busy as hell designing multiple R&D facilities for NIH (which I am not at liberty to discuss) USDA, and the DOE. These are some major R&D labs with technologies never seen before in the US. It makes sense to me that we are currently in the high level of the spending trend since all the grants to do research in these facilities will not even come close to the amounts spent on the facilities themselves. The paragraph about the NIH grants is misleading: they just had a huge boom in research grant funding corresponding to new facilities. Now, if the grant funding for new research does truly drop off, then we're in trouble. But again, the amounts spent on these facilities in recent years is truly staggering so the curve will naturally level off after this major growth.

This has been my (favorite) baby that I've been designing in recent years. It features cutting edge research for smart power grids, energy storage systems, and fuel cell development (just to name a few)

http://www.nrel.gov/esi/esif.html


Hey now! Doesn't the notion of money into facilities before talent sound familiar? It seems an old and unappreciated story considering that one of those "state cities" is in the middle of our community. I am being sufficiently vague here, but in this case I am referring to the UW. Don't get me wrong as I love the institute, although it is important to keep an eye on the institution.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Toonces » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:00 pm

Mad Howler wrote:Hey now! Doesn't the notion of money into facilities before talent sound familiar?


What part of "boom in research grant funding" don't you understand? The researcher budget comes before the facility budget. The "institution" is not that stupid. BTW, you are referring to a different institution. Higher education and government are not one in the same.

Obviously you did not look at the link, either. Clearly a relevant discussion is not going to take place.
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Re: US R&D effort stagnating

Postby Mad Howler » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:02 am

I am interested in a "relevant" discusion. It is unclear to me where the NREL project is sited. Forgive me for my skepticism but there seems to be a rule around here regarding funding buildings and not people with the dollars from our collective intellectual property. I suppose this had a good basis in the days of flush public funding, a notion of we will build it an those federal dollars will come. Not recognizing this potential shift in this "economy" could be a tragic blow to innovation here.
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