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Foreword by Walter Cronkite  
Introduction - The National Science Foundation at 50: Where Discoveries Begin, by Rita Colwell  
Internet: Changing the Way we Communicate  
Advanced Materials: The Stuff Dreams are Made of  
Education: Lessons about Learning  
Manufacturing: The Forms of Things Unknown
Arabidopsis: Map-makers of the Plant Kingdom  
Decision Sciences: How the Game is Played  
Visualization: A Way to See the Unseen  
Environment: Taking the Long View  
Astronomy: Exploring the Expanding Universe  
Science on the Edge: Arctic and Antarctic Discoveries  
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Manufacturing: The Forms of Things Unknown

Manufacturing the Future

The ERC program is a particularly good example of how NSF brings together the discovery-driven culture of engineering. Manufacturers applaud NSF's efforts because they recognize that coming up with new systems and products is a much more complex and expensive venture than ever before, and they need the help of university-based researchers in order to build the science base for future advancements.

For example, it takes about a billion dollars to develop a new semiconductor chip capable of the kind of performance required in, say, high-definition television. That level of investment—that level of risk—deters even the most ambitious American companies from doing the kind of pioneering research necessary to keep them globally competitive. NSF's role as a catalyst for government-industry-academia collaboration is vital for the nation's economic well-being.

"You need a partnership," says NSF Deputy Director, Joseph Bordogna. "You need new knowledge out of universities and labs, new processes from industry, and a government willing to enable it all through appropriate R&D policy and frontier research and education investment, by and for the citizenry."

NSF's efforts to bridge the worlds of industry and academe reflect another truth about modern manufacturing: Knowledge and ideas are the most important raw materials.

"It's no longer profitable just to ship a piece of metal out the front door," industry analyst Graham Vickery told Industry Week. "What you're doing now is shipping some sort of component that requires things like support services, or advice, or design skills, or engineering know-how" in order for the component to be of actual use at the other end.

Finding innovative ways to handle information is now manufacturing's chief concern. "If you understand that today manufacturing is an enterprise-wide production process," says Eugene Wong, "you see that information management will assume an increasingly important role, one that may already have transcended the importance of transforming materials into products."

With NSF's help, American manufacturers are making the changes necessary to stay competitive in a marketplace increasingly dominated by e-commerce, while at the same time honoring the traditional core of manufacturing's purpose: the innovation of new technologies and products for an expectant public.

PDF Version
The Myth of Manufacturing's Demise
Rapid Prototyping
Getting Control
Supply Chain Management
Only the Agile Survive
Education that Works
Manufacturing in the Future
A Brief History
Next Generation of Manufacturing
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