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Lewis Link: Federal Spending Cuts Impact R&D, Economic Future

Lewis E. LinkDecreased funding from the federal government is affecting the research and development sector and could be detrimental to the country’s future, according to research engineer Lewis E. Link Jr.

Link, former R&D director and chief scientific advisor for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, wrote in a Mar. 5 oped for ENR.com that there has been a decrease in the number of enrollees in Ph.D. programs as more graduates opt to join the workforce.

He says that a greater number of foreign students are becoming research and teaching assistants and a majority of them take their knowledge with them when they leave the U.S.

Citing research backed by studies from Battelle and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Link says a shortfall in research investments can inhibit efforts toward the renewal and rehabilitation of aging infrastructure and long-term basic research.

He urged decision makers to strive for a balance of both short-term and long-term critical investments, noting that the goal is to make sure the country’s “economic seed bag” remains full and intact.

Battelle’s report says continued funding, not on-and-off support, for R&D is the best approach to ensuring economic growth.

“R&D is not an instrument that can be quickly turned on and off to trigger economic growth,” the report says.

“In our increasingly technology-dependent world, strong continued support of R&D investments is essential to maintain and grow a nation’s economic strength.”

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