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COURTLAND D. PERKINS
Professor Perkins was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December
He was graduated from Swarthmore College in 1935 and received his
M.S. Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1941.
received D. Eng. (8) Degrees from Lehigh University, Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute and Swarthmore College. During World War II be headed the Stability
and Control Unit of the Aircraft Laboratory, 0.s. Army Air Corps, at Wright
Field. He was active during this period improving the sophistication of flight test and flight research operations within the Armed Forces, and had
a hand in the creation of the first Air Force Test Pilot School now active
at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Imediately following the war, Professor Perkins and a Wright Field colleague published a fundamental book
entitled Airplane Performance, Stability and Control.
After leaving Wright Field in 1945, Perkins joined the Princeton faculty
where he has held the rank of Professor since 1947.
He was appointed Chair
man of the Aeronautical Engineering Department in 1951, and twelve years later was appointed Chairman of the newly formed Department of Aerospace and
In the fall of 1974 he was named Associate Dean of the
School of Engineering and Applied Science.
During his tenure at Princeton, Professor Perkins twice took leave of
absence to serve the Department of Defense.
In 1956-57 he served as Chief
Scientist of the USAF, and in 1960–61 was Assistant Secretary of the USAF
for Research and Development.
He has served on the USAF Scientific Advisory
Board since 1946; he served as Chairman of the Board from 1969 to 1972 and also from 1977 to 1978. He also serves as Senior Scientist of the USAF-SAB.
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In 1963 he was elected Chairman of the Advisory Group for Aeronautical
Research and Development (NATO), and served in this capacity until 1967.
served as a member of the Space Science Board of the National Academy of
Sciences from 1964-70, and as a member of the Defense Science Board from 1969
to 1973 and from 1977 to 1978.
He has been a member of NASA's Space Program
Advisory Committee and Chairman of its Space Systems Committee from 1972 to
He was President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astro
nautics in 1964.
He has served on the Board of Directors of Fairchild
Industries Corporation, American Airlines, Inc., The MITRE Corporation, The
Keuffel & Esser Company, and the C. S. Draper Lab
In April of 1975 Perkins was elected to the Presidency of the National
Academy of Engineering, succeeding Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and re-elected
in 1978 to serve a four-year term.
Professor Perkins is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of
Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society,
a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (Paris), a Corres
ponding Member of the National Academy of Engineering of Mexico, and a
member of the American Helicopter Society, Sigma Xi, and Tau Beta Pi.
was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1969 and to the Amer
ican Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977.
He has been made a member of
the French Legion d'Honneur.
He is married, has two children, and resides
in Alexandria, Virginia.
He is a member of the Princeton Club of New York,
the Quissett Yacht Club, the New York Yacht Club, and the Cosmos Club of
STATEMENTS OF DR. FRANK PRESS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL
ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND DR. COURTLAND PERKINS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING
Mr. FUQUA. Frank, we are happy to welcome you back once again. Is this the first time you have testified as the President of the Academy?
Dr. PRESS. That's right.
Mr. FUQUA. Well, let me welcome you in that capacity. You have been here many times in the past as science adviser to the President. We are happy to have you in your new position of responsibility, and look forward to continuing our relationship that we have had. It has been a very warm one over the years.
We will be happy to hear from you.
With your permission, I would like to reduce the extent of my remarks and submit the full text for the record.
Mr. FUQUA. Without objection.
Dr. PRESS. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to be with you here today to join in this discussion of engineering manpower concerns.
Dr. Perkins and I have coordinated our testimony, and I will address the issue in the broader context of some of the challenges the Nation faces in the years ahead. He will address the more specific concerns of engineering education that have emerged from a series of discussions that the National Academy of Engineering has had over the years.
Mr. Chairman, I believe your hearing should seek to provide a clear and factual exposition upon which decisions can be formulated in meeting engineering manpower needs for the next decade and define the appropriate roles to be played by all concerned in sharing that responsibility.
We must provide modern teaching and research facilities and other programs to insure that talented individuals in adequate numbers are available for service in our vast scientific and technological enterprise.
While our Nation is still the technological leader of the world, certain worrisome signs should lead us to examine carefully whether these goals are being well served. There is a widespread belief that our technology today is growing less competitive with other industrial nations, and that the scientific and engineering facilities in which we educate and train future generations show an alarming slippage in comparative quality.
The sufficiency and quality of engineering manpower resources for the future are directly related to the overall quality and level or research programs in our academic community. Only if our universities remain at the cutting edge in frontier research endeavors can we advance the state-of-the-art and improve the training of our youth.
Other countries may turn out more engineers than we do. We should not be deceived by that statistic. It is the quality of education that counts and it is the involvement of our engineering faculties in the forefront of research and development, and in the dissemination of the most current understanding of the state-ofthe-art to students through the educational process.
Today, our university departments of science and engineering in many instances utilize outmoded equipment, equipment that often lags behind the technological facilities provided in the laboratories of our industrial plants. In many cases, our students are not wellprepared for their first jobs because of this.
Industry has increasingly recognized the value for its own future needs of plant modernization at univerisities. But, however encouraging it is to see the growing contribution of industry to solving these problems, it cannot be expected to shoulder the entire burden alone.
The issue of obsolescence must be faced jointly by the Government, by industry, by the universities. One useful Government initiative has been the incentive created for industrial support by the recently enacted Reagan administration tax program which extends tax benefits to companies donating certain kinds of equipment to universities for research.
If this provision is liberally used, there can be a significant contribution toward improving the situation.
While Dr. Perkins will talk to you in detail about emerging engineering manpower demands, I would like to call attention briefly to a particular aspect of engineering manpower demand that, in my view, we cannot ignore. The decade ahead will witness a second industrial revolution growing out of developments in high technology. To survive,' many middle level and smaller industries will increasingly require the services of competent and highly skilled engineers. These prospective manpower demands have never been adequately factored into projections of future needs for engineers.
I believe that the Government has a responsibility to monitor the supply and demand of scientific and technical personnel both in terms of quantity and quality and to supplement the free market role when it in the national interest.
This is an area in which the Government as representative of the public interest must be watchful. For example, we observed that the supply of engineers is beginning to catch up with demand. Some studies show that by the end of the decade, supply and demand should be in balance except perhaps in a few specialties.
I would like to add that not everybody agrees with this projection. There is a great deal of uncertainty about future demand for engineers. If this high-technology industrial revolution does accelerate, I think the demand might have been underestimated.
But, there are near-term and intermediate-term needs about which everyone agrees and there are gaps and questions of quality. As I said earlier, the latest state-of-the-art equipment to train these engineers is lacking. Further, the burgeoning numbers of engineering students have overcrowded the classroom at a time when there is a shortage of qualified teachers.
It is questionable that graduating engineers are receiving quality education in the faster growing disciplines such as computer engineering, robotics, electronics, genetic engineering, and the several fields of energy engineering. And, whether our universities can keep apace of the accelerating advances of modern technology in these new fields is another vexing question.
Without both, private and Government support, and without institutional changes within universities, the gap may widen further in the years ahead.
I'm concerned that support will lag and that industry and private sources cannot make up the difference, especially in the areas of instrumentation, and in the provision of incentives for junior faculty to remain at our universities. These are short-term and I hope manageable problems if we can define a national policy of cooperative support by both Government and industry.
But, there are longer term conditions that could limit our ability to stay in the forefront of the world's technological leaders. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that your committee will address this in your future deliberations. It has to do with the quality of science and mathematics education in our primary and secondary schools.
Last year, my predecessor, Dr. Handler, called your attention to a report of the National Research Council entitled “The State of School Science.” It is a review that was supported by the National Science Foundation concerning the quality of teaching of mathematics, science, and social studies in American schools.
The survey data, firsthand observations, and other information from this and additional studies described a troubled American school system. Student performances show striking decline. Teacher qualifications and effectiveness in the classroom has dropped. Use of laboratory instruction and the inquiry approach seems to be diminishing. A heavy emphasis, systemwide, on multiple-choice testing has elevated simpler and less meaningful instructional objectives and reduced the importance of learning concepts and relationships.
The educational environment in our schools is not good. All of this cannot help but affect our future ability to maintain a leadership position in technology in the world.
An impending crisis awaits us as these ill-prepared secondary students begin to move into society, into vocational jobs, or into education. I should also like to underscore a problem by reference to the findings of a comparative study prepared by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education just last year.
The major thrust of that survey is that in each country studiedJapan, Germany, and the Soviet Union-in each of these countries, there is a strong national commitment to quality science and mathematics instruction as an essential part of the precollege work. The result is a work force which, at all levels, has a relatively high degree of science and mathematics skills, and this has been a factor in the very rapid expansion of their technical industries.
In a nutshell, the university needs are significant. The traditional sources of support-endowment income, gifts, support by State legislatures—will be insufficient to solve some of these problems. Industry is increasing its support. But industrial leaders themselves say that they cannot fill the gap.
Who will pick up the difference? I think this is where we need a significant statement about Government policy. I do hope, Mr. Chairman, that as a result of your hearings, we might begin the