The proposed awards would be presented, shortly after the innovations occur, to scientists and engineers in industry, academe, and government who develop unique ideas in the national interest. They would illustrate the linkage between science and engineering and national needs and provide an example to students of the contributions they could make to society by entering the science and engineering profession.
Research sows the seeds of innovation. The influence of federally funded research in social advancement—in the creation of new industries and in the enhancement of old ones—is clearly established. But federal funding for research is out of balance: Strong support is concentrated in a few fields while other areas of equivalent potential languish. Instead, the United States needs to be among the world leaders in all important fields of science and engineering. But, new investigators find it increasingly difficult to secure funding to pursue innovative lines of research. An emphasis on short-term goals diverts attention from high-risk ideas with great potential that may take more time to realize. And the infrastructure essential for discovery and for the creation of new technologies is deteriorating because of failure to provide the funds needed to maintain and upgrade it.