US innovation: On the skids

Technologists look to a new White House to reverse decade-long slide in R&D

Cerf suggests that the new administration encourage immigration by the most talented science and engineering students. "I've always been puzzled by the H1-B issue, because for the past decade or two, the major fraction of researchers at universities have been from outside," he says.

"They are the crème de la crème, because they can't get in otherwise," he says. "Maybe they go home and maybe they stay, but they contribute mightily to the health of research and add a great deal of value to US research initiatives."

Henry Chesbrough shares that goal. "We are losing our ability to attract the best and brightest at the graduate level to come to the US," says the executive director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. "There are two reasons," he explains. "Our concerns about security and immigration have caused us to be perceived as less welcoming. And the options back in the home countries are better than they have ever been. So at precisely the time we need to be more competitive to attract and keep these people, we are pushing them away."

But attracting bright PhD students is one challenge, funding their work is another. According to the AAAS, total federal funding for R&D at universities has risen slightly recently but, adjusted for inflation, has declined in each of the past two years.

Kleinrock says he is troubled by how campus researchers are changing the way they approach research in order to win the kind of short-term funding that comes from DARPA. "A lot of people are resorting to simulation, and that's fine, except they don't stop to ask what's behind the results they get," he says. "They are not being pushed to get a fundamental understanding; they are looking for the answers now, for this system, for today."

He says he worries that this short-term view of science will propagate from professor to student in a way that weakens subsequent generations of researchers.

Of course, given the current economic turmoil, most everyone sees other critical needs pushing R&D even further down the list of federal priorities. "Yes," Chesbrough admits, "that's going to make this deferred gratification even more difficult to accomplish."

Cerf says that while he's "deeply concerned" about the state of long-term research in IT in the US, he advises IT people to put it in perspective. "IT research is probably less utterly critical than, say, energy and the environment or, for that mater, figuring out what to do about health care and entitlement programs that are destroying our ability to have discretionary funding. You can't do research without discretionary funding."

Tags it strategyIT management

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gary Anthes

Computerworld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?