Increases in industrial R&D are the highest recorded since the early 1980s, according to a report to Congress by the National Science Board. Expenditures on R&D performed in the U.S. exceeded $200 billion for the first time in 1997. All three categories of R&D funding--basic research, applied research, and development--are at their highest levels in both current and constant dollars. Profit-making companies are responsible for all of the growth. Last year industrial firms spent $3 out of every $4 invested in R&D in the U.S. Federal R&D funding, especially for defense research, has fallen almost continuously in real terms for a decade. The report attributes the gain in industrial investment to stiff global competition, the surge in information technology, and record profits. The electrical equipment industry exhibited the highest percentage rise.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.