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Chemical Engineering Research: Its Key Characteristics, Its Importance for the United States, and the Task of Benchmarking

Engineering is often defined as the discipline that provides a workable and practical heuristic solution to a technical problem within economic, ecological, and time constraints. In this context, the adjective “heuristic” means that the solution is not perfect, because the underlying science is often underdeveloped, but the solution is “good enough” for the purposes intended. For example, before combustion chemistry was understood, well-functioning engines were already made and sold. Because of the heuristic nature of engineering accomplishments, there is always room for technological progress, as science feeds better heuristics.

2.1.
WHAT IS CHEMICAL ENGINEERING?

Chemical engineering deals with the engineering aspects of chemical and biological systems of interest. Systems of interest most often include products, processes for making them, and applications for using them. Beyond designing, manufacturing, and using products, chemical engineering also includes devising new ways to measure, effectively analyze, and possibly redesign complex systems involving chemical and biological processes.

The discipline covers a wide-ranging set of societal interests and needs, including the following: health; habitable environment; national defense and security; transportation; communications; agriculture; clothing and food; and various life amenities. Examples of processes of interest to chemical engineering include a large variety of industrial manufacturing systems used for the production of chemicals and materials (e.g., petrochemical plants, multipurpose pharmaceutical plants, microelectronics fabrication



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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness 2 Chemical Engineering Research: Its Key Characteristics, Its Importance for the United States, and the Task of Benchmarking Engineering is often defined as the discipline that provides a workable and practical heuristic solution to a technical problem within economic, ecological, and time constraints. In this context, the adjective “heuristic” means that the solution is not perfect, because the underlying science is often underdeveloped, but the solution is “good enough” for the purposes intended. For example, before combustion chemistry was understood, well-functioning engines were already made and sold. Because of the heuristic nature of engineering accomplishments, there is always room for technological progress, as science feeds better heuristics. 2.1. WHAT IS CHEMICAL ENGINEERING? Chemical engineering deals with the engineering aspects of chemical and biological systems of interest. Systems of interest most often include products, processes for making them, and applications for using them. Beyond designing, manufacturing, and using products, chemical engineering also includes devising new ways to measure, effectively analyze, and possibly redesign complex systems involving chemical and biological processes. The discipline covers a wide-ranging set of societal interests and needs, including the following: health; habitable environment; national defense and security; transportation; communications; agriculture; clothing and food; and various life amenities. Examples of processes of interest to chemical engineering include a large variety of industrial manufacturing systems used for the production of chemicals and materials (e.g., petrochemical plants, multipurpose pharmaceutical plants, microelectronics fabrication

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness facilities, food processing plants, plants converting biomass to fuels); ecological subsystems such as the atmosphere; the human body in its entirety and its parts; and energy devices such as batteries and fuel cells. Examples of products include various types of commodity or specialty polymers; pharmaceuticals; a broad array of inorganic, ceramic, or composite materials; chemicals and materials for personal care products (e.g., cosmetics, moisturizers, shampoos, antibacterial soaps), information and electronic devices (e.g., displays, cellular phones, optic fiber communication networks), medical products, or automobiles; diagnostic devices; drug delivery systems; and others. Examples of applications include monitoring and control of air pollution; extraction of fossil energy; life-cycle analysis, design, and production of “green” products; diagnostic devices; drug targeting and delivery systems; combustion systems; solar energy; and many others. Chemical engineering involves the development of heuristic approaches founded on basic science to make it possible to achieve practical outcomes. There is an often discussed overlap between applied sciences (chemistry, biology, and physics) and chemical engineering; often they share the same objective, but use different approaches and methodologies and thus they are synergistic. Research in chemical engineering seeks to explain (analyze) and control (synthesize) one or more of the following five basic elements of a system of interest (product, process, or application): the physical, chemical, and/or biological phenomena occurring in the system of interest the performance of the system of interest, that is, the model-based estimate and/or direct measurement of its properties and usefulness in actual or simulated conditions of application the structure and composition of the system of interest that determine the system’s properties and performance (e.g., the type of processing units in a manufacturing process and their interconnections, the type of atoms in a chemical product or material and their interconnections, the type of materials and components in a device and their interconnections, the type of reactions in combustion and their interrelationships) the synthesis and processing by which a particular product (chemical, material, device) is achieved the optimization of any of the above to achieve maximum commercial or societal value For the purposes of this benchmarking exercise, the Panel divided chemical engineering research into nine major areas with several subareas in each:

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness Area-1: Engineering Science of Physical Processes Transport processes Thermodynamics Rheology Separations Solid particles technology Area-2: Engineering Science of Chemical Processes Catalysis Kinetics and reaction engineering Polymerization reaction engineering Electrochemical processes Area-3: Engineering Science of Biological Processes Biocatalysis and protein engineering Cellular and metabolic engineering Bioprocess engineering Systems, computational, and synthetic biology Area-4: Molecular and Interfacial Science and Engineering Area-5: Materials Polymers Inorganic and ceramic materials Composites Nanostructured materials Area-6: Biomedical Products and Biomaterials Drug targeting and delivery systems Biomaterials Materials for cell and tissue engineering Area-7: Energy Fossil energy extraction and processing Fossil fuel utilization Non-fossil energy Area-8: Environmental Impact and Management Air pollution Water pollution Aerosol science and engineering Green engineering Area-9: Process Systems Development and Engineering Process development and design Dynamics, control, and operational optimization Safety and operability of chemical plants Computational tools and information technology It is important to appreciate that the above taxonomy is arbitrary and the various areas and subareas are interrelated and overlapping. For exam-

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness ple, combustion research in the subareas “fossil fuel utilization” (Area-7) and “aerosol science and engineering” (Area-8) overlaps extensively with the scope of research in the Area-1 subareas of “transport” and “solid particles technology” and the Area-2 subareas of “catalysis” and “kinetics and reaction engineering.” Many materials can be viewed as both “composites” and “biomaterials.” The field of complex fluids spans “thermodynamics,” “rheology,” “molecular and interfacial science and engineering,” and subsections of “materials.” Loosely speaking, research in Areas- 1, 2, 3, 4, and 9, focuses on fundamentals of engineering science and methodologies, while research in Areas- 5, 6, 7, and 8 focuses on the development of applications (products, processes, devices). 2.1.a What Are the Key Features of Chemical Engineering Research? Chemical engineering is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Almost every process, product, or application that has attracted the discipline’s attention involves chemical, physical, and/or biological phenomena at various spatial and temporal scales. Chemical engineering synthesizes knowledge from several disciplines (multidisciplinary) and interacts with researchers from multiple disciplines (interdisciplinary). Today in all areas and subareas of interest to chemical engineering, researchers from various disciplines actively compete and collaborate with chemical engineering researchers: applied physicists in fluid mechanics, solid particle technologies, thermodynamics, polymers, rheology, nanostructured materials, protein engineering, molecular and interfacial processes; applied chemists in catalysis, kinetics, all types of materials, molecular and interfacial processes, protein engineering; biologists in biocatalysis, protein engineering, cellular and metabolic engineering, biomaterials, cellular and tissue engineering, biomedical devices, synthetic biology; materials scientists and engineers in all types of materials; and computer scientists, electrical engineers, and operations research and applied mathematicians in all aspects of process systems engineering (modeling, simulation, optimization, control, information technology). All of these scientists and engineers in a scholarly interplay with chemical engineers provide many ideas and motivation for continued growth of components of chemical engineering research. However, chemical engineering has demonstrated a unique ability to synthesize diverse forms of knowledge from applied sciences and other engineering disciplines into cohesive and effective solutions for many societal needs. This integrative capacity is at the core of the discipline’s raison d’etre and is its most distinguishing characteristic. Chemical engineering research is modestly capital intensive. The dependence of chemical engineering research on fixed-capital infra-

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness structure varies with area of research. For example, research in all types of materials (Area-5), catalysis (subarea 2a), combustion (subarea 7b), is capital intensive, while research in Area-4 (molecular and interfacial science and engineering) and Area-9 (process systems development and engineering) is not. On average, research in chemical engineering is not as capital intensive as research in materials, but it does involve increasingly sophisticated instruments for the characterization of dynamically evolving reacting systems, chemical and material structures, nano-scale configurations, in vivo or in vitro characterization of cellular structures and mechanisms, and surfaces and interfaces for a variety of solid and fluid systems. The equipment used in chemical engineering research ranges from small, laboratory bench-scale setups and machines that serve a single investigator to synchrotron sources, nuclear reactors, superconducting magnets, sophisticated surgical facilities, and supercomputers that serve larger user communities and research groups. Chemical engineering research in the United States benefits from the large installed base of research facilities. Europe and Asia have been making significant and sustained fixed-capital investments over the last 10 years. New research centers are being developed with modern facilities, offering chemical engineering researchers in the corresponding regions the necessary infrastructure to compete. Chemical engineering research is deployed through various modes. Research problems in chemical engineering require all forms of research, from small-scale research carried out by a principal investigator and a small team, to large multidisciplinary teams and regional consortia involving many investigators. Consortia, alliances, and partnerships of industrial, university, and government laboratories have become fairly common modes in developing and exploiting breakthroughs in the field. Following the globalization of financial markets, globalization of science and technology has increased rapidly and has led to an increasing number of international research collaborations with commensurable sharing of knowledge, fixed-capital, and human resources. Computational approaches are ubiquitous in chemical engineering research. Computer-aided research and engineering have been distinctive features of chemical engineering for almost 50 years. Today they are prominent elements of chemical engineering research in all subareas, leading and/or supporting research inquiries from the atomic to the macroscale. The use in chemical engineering research of large supercomputers, networks of computers, sophisticated simulation, control, and optimization packages with ever-improving visualization of the results, and vast arrays of databases, is significant and fast becoming a differentiating strength. Their integration into an effective cyberinfrastructure is the next natural step, and the first

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness attempts in its implementation are currently under way. All areas of chemical engineering research are engaged in simulations of complex phenomena based on first principles at atomic, molecular, meso-, or macroscales, which allow for the prediction of properties and performance and give rise to strategies for the design of processes and materials over the range of relevant scales. In the areas of materials and biotechnology, large databases are mined for the hidden structured knowledge, which can guide the design and control of new materials or cellular and metabolic processes. All of these computer-aided research activities benefit directly from U.S. strengths in computer science and engineering. Cellular and molecular biology have become core to chemical engineering research. New discoveries and developments in cellular and molecular biology have led to paradigm shifts in chemical engineering research. New synthetic materials that mimic the structure and properties of naturally occurring ones, new concepts of catalysis using models from protein functions, and new synthetic biological pathways creating new processes are some of the major developments in recent years. Biology has become as core as chemistry and physics have been for the last 100 years of chemical engineering research. Chemical engineering research requires sustained investment and close interaction with industry. The time from the first concept to the synthesis of the first prototype to a commercial process, chemical, material, or device, is often as long as, 7 to 15 years. Long-term research is expensive and risky. So, sustained public-sector investment in precompetitive research and development is critical for realizing the economic potential of new ideas. Strong user involvement in the early stages of process or product synthesis and applications-oriented research is pivotal for facilitating the early adoption of a new process, material, chemical, or device. 2.1.b How Important Is It for the United States to Lead in Chemical Engineering and Why? Chemicals and materials have been central to social advancement and economic growth since the dawn of history. Since World War II there has been an explosion in our understanding of how to make these chemicals and materials, how to use them, and how to adapt them into new products and applications. Chemical engineering and particularly U.S. chemical engineering has been a central force in all of these developments during the past 60 years.

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness Federally funded research, a strong U.S. chemical industry, and the creative genius of U.S. entrepreneurs catapulted the field into a strong leadership position across the world. Modern refineries; integrated and cost-effective world-class petrochemical processes; chemicals and processes for a continuously advancing agricultural sector; burgeoning pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries; materials, chemicals, and processes for the space program; reductions in air and water pollution; materials and devices that have revolutionized health care practices; computing; telecommunications; and many amenities at home or at the workplace are the historical legacy of U.S. chemical engineers working in collaboration with researchers from other disciplines. It is not an exaggeration to state that almost all aspects of modern life have been impacted by the results of U.S. research in chemical engineering. The future holds the promise of many exciting dreams: “intelligent” materials that will enable diverse technologies to respond dynamically to changes in the environment; green engineering for a sustainable supply of chemicals, materials, and energy; pharmaceuticals and reconstructive medicine for prolonging human life and improving its quality; intelligent devices for broader and closer interaction among humans worldwide; eradication of many diseases and poverty worldwide; and increased safety and security across the world. In all of these developments, chemical sciences and engineering will continue to play a pivotal role, and thus chemical engineering research will continue to be critical. To be a leader in industrial growth and to promote a vibrant economy, it is critical that the United States be among the world leaders in all areas of chemical engineering. This requirement implies a dynamic range of chemical engineering research from the molecular to macroscopic scale that has characterized the evolution and past successes of the field. Having world-class researchers who are knowledgeable about the frontiers of chemical sciences and engineering is crucial to the rapid commercial assimilation and exploitation of important discoveries. Innovations abound in nearly all sectors of our economy, and nearly all modern industries benefit from developments in chemical sciences and engineering research. It is well documented that chemical sciences and engineering together have resulted in the most enabling science/technology combination to underpin technology development in every industrial sector.1 For example, chemical technology is “Core” in 60% of the 15 broad industrial sectors considered in the study and “Important” in the remaining 40%. It is “Irrelevant” to none of the industrial sectors. No other technology is as prevalent and influential as chemical technology in all industries. 1 Council for Chemical Research, “Measure for Measure: Chemical R&D Powers the US Innovation Engine,” 2005.

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness By comparison, computers and peripherals are “Important” in 8 of the 15 industrial sectors and “Core” in only 4. Additionally, all industries’ technologies rely on chemical technology, as is demonstrated by data that indicate that each industry builds on chemical technology as prior art. The evidence is in industry-to-industry patent citation counts; patents granted to companies in all industries build on patents granted to companies in the chemical industry. Our national defense and security will continue to depend on providing the most advanced diagnostic systems and weapons to our military and police forces. Advanced materials for soldiers’ gear, diagnostic devices, portable production or storage of energy, long-range and effective telecommunication devices, and biomaterials and biomedical devices for the wounded, are some of the products to be affected by the results of chemical engineering research to come. Biomaterials are used to make artificial organs, joints, and heart valves, pacemakers, and lens implants, and the range of their applications will continue to grow—impacting treatment processes and delivery of health care in profound ways. Tailored pharmaceuticals and personal care products with minimal side effects, custom design of artificial biological implants that last a lifetime, and processes that make the manufacturing of all of these safe and cost-effective are some of the benefits we can expect. The sustainable supply of chemicals, materials, and energy with minimal impact to the health of the environment and at costs that can be afforded by society is a grand challenge that requires marshalling all of the creative genius of researchers in chemical sciences and engineering. It is now possible to design new chemicals and materials atom by atom. It is now possible to deliberately and safely engage biological processes to supplement the chain of chemical processes in making the needed materials, chemicals, and devices. The possibilities are seemingly unbounded, but if the United States is to exploit these possibilities, strong national research capabilities by single investigators and multidisciplinary teams are required. Maintaining excellence across the dynamic range of chemical engineering research is essential. 2.2. BENCHMARKING U.S. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING RESEARCH An engineering research enterprise has multiple objectives. Assessing it is a complex and multifaceted task. Benchmarking it against similar enterprises in other parts of the world is hindered by problems with information sources, which are not necessarily compiled in a comparable manner in other countries and are not readily available in the United States. Valid and useful comparisons are also complicated by the different disciplinary boundaries found in different countries.

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness The Panel decided that the objectives of the U.S. chemical engineering research enterprise include generation of new fundamental knowledge that enlightens the understanding of a broad range of critical engineering problems, generation of new technologies that can become the basis for the development of new businesses and enrich the society at large, including not only material goods but also improvements in personal health and the physical environment, and generation of human resources with the talents and abilities necessary to meet the challenges of the future. The following paragraphs in this section will describe the approach the Panel adopted in benchmarking U.S. chemical engineering research against research in other regions of the world. They will also highlight various caveats in benchmarking a research enterprise and how the Panel dealt with these caveats. The results of the benchmarking exercise will be presented in Chapters 3 and 4. 2.2.a Approach Unlike the basic sciences, whose purpose is to reveal the laws of nature, the purpose of engineering is to provide goods and services for the betterment of life, both individual and collective. Therefore, the objective of chemical engineering research is to create novel, functionally better, or less expensive chemicals, materials, devices, and/or services. Assessing leadership and innovation in chemical engineering research would require measuring value-adjusted rates of (a) creation of new products and services; (b) product, process, and service improvements; and (c) cost reduction through innovation. Such an approach is presently feasible within the confines of a single company but not at an international scale, where detailed data on research and financial performance from a multitude of industrial concerns worldwide are not available. Therefore, the Panel decided to focus primarily on academic research in chemical engineering, since the results of such an enterprise have a cascading and multiplying effect on (a) the generation of new knowledge underpinning the development of new technologies, (b) the creation of new products and processes, and (c) the formation of human resources that power all of the above. In particular, the Panel selected the following set of metrics to assess the effectiveness of the U.S. chemical engineering research enterprise:

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness reputation of U.S. chemical engineering researchers, as manifested by the composition of a Virtual World Congress productivity in publications by U.S. chemical engineering researchers quality and impact of U.S. chemical engineering publications, as measured by the number of citations patent productivity in U.S. chemical engineering departments impact of U.S. chemical engineering research publications in shaping industrial patents impact of U.S. chemical engineering research in developing the requisite high-quality human resources for the advancement of the U.S. chemical industry at large It should be noted that, in assessing certain subareas, the Panel did take into account the position of U.S. industrial research (see Chapter 4). As our analysis will show, when all of these metrics are taken together they allow the generation of fairly robust conclusions on the current position and future prospects of the U.S. chemical engineering research enterprise in relation to those in the rest of the world. Virtual World Congress A technique used by the Panel to assess leadership in chemical engineering research was to create a Virtual World Congress for each subarea of chemical engineering. Panel members scripted the content of a fictitious World Congress for each subarea of chemical engineering and asked leading experts worldwide to identify 8 to 15 researchers considered to be the “best of the best” in these subareas and likely to make pivotal contributions to the Virtual World Congress. The experts were also asked to develop a short list of “hot topics” in each subarea. Given the extensive intellectual interaction among the various subareas of chemical engineering and the ensuing cross-pollination, several experts happened to be consulted for the Virtual World Congress in more than one subarea. Furthermore, given the extensive intellectual interaction of almost all chemical engineering subareas with other sciences and engineering disciplines, experts were asked to consider researchers from industry and academia, from other sciences and engineering disciplines. To ensure that the results of this exercise would reflect chemical engineering research, the Panel decided that at least 50% of the experts selected should be from chemical engineering. No constraints were placed on the fractional representation of chemical engineers in the Virtual World Congress of a specific subarea. A total of 276 individuals participated as experts

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness in this exercise, and the table in Appendix 3A lists their names. The Panel is deeply indebted to them for their effort. Analysis of Research Publications and Impact The Panel selected a list of leading journals with significant impact factors for this analysis. Given the broad range of journals in which chemical engineers publish, and in an effort to assess current trends in the direction of chemical engineering research, the Panel selected the journals as follows: Journals with broad coverage of chemical engineering research, e.g., AIChE Journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research Chemical Engineering Science Journals with broad coverage of sciences and engineering disciplines in which chemical engineers publish, e.g., Science Nature Proceedings of the National Academy of Science Leading journals for each subarea of chemical engineering: Area-specific journals where researchers from various sciences and/or engineering disciplines publish, along with researchers from chemical engineering, e.g., Langmuir, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Physics of Fluids Area-specific journals where chemical engineering researchers are the primary contributors, e.g., Computers and Chemical Engineering, Journal of Chemical Process Control The table in Appendix 3B lists all of the journals considered by the Panel. The Panel focused its analysis of journal publication data on the following metrics: publication rates of growth for the three periods: 1990-1994, 1995-1999, 2000-2006 percent of U.S. papers in the list of 100 (or 50, or 30, depending on subarea) most-cited papers for the same three periods percent contributions by U.S. researchers versus those from other regions for subareas of interdisciplinary research, percent contributions by chemical engineers versus those from other disciplines for subareas of interdisciplinary research, percent contributions

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness by U.S. chemical engineers versus those of chemical engineers from other regions Prize Analysis The Panel identified the key prizes given in chemical engineering and in various subareas of chemical engineering, and analyzed the list of recipients for each prize. However, it should be noted that most of the prizes have a heavy national or regional bent—very few prizes are truly international. Therefore, the results of this analysis are not truly representative of relative competitiveness of different countries and regions of the world. Most Significant Advances in Chemical Engineering The most significant advances in chemical engineering research during the period 1996-2006 were identified, as well as the location where they originated. This information was used by Panel members to assess the relative position of chemical engineering research in the United States in each area and subarea. All of the above information was used to construct tables that summarize the Panel’s assessment, including subjective judgment of the relative significance of numbers, as follows: What is the current relative position of the United States in each subarea of chemical engineering, using the following scoring system: “1” Forefront “3” Among World Leaders “5” Behind World Leaders What is the likely future position of the United States in each subarea of chemical engineering, using the following scoring system: “1” Gaining or Extending “3” Maintaining “5” Losing 2.2.b The International Character of Chemical Engineering To determine the relative competitive strength of U.S. research in chemical engineering, the Panel considered countries—defined by national boundaries—and geographic regions which, due to their specific political or economic links, are clear and distinct competitors. The following countries and geographic regions were considered:

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness United States Canada European Union (of 25 member countries) Japan Asia (China, Korea, Taiwan, India) Central and South America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Colombia) In certain instances and in an effort to sharpen the understanding of the competitive landscape, Japan was considered with the other four Asian countries, and China was singled out for comments because of remarkable rates of growth in some areas of Chinese science and engineering. Australia’s contributions, significant in certain areas of research, have been considered together with those of the other Asian countries. Contributions from Switzerland, Norway, and Russia were considered as part of the European totals. The geographic competitive landscape, as described above, is confounded by the rapid advancement of globalization in two ways. First, chemical companies with global reach have established research centers in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, India, Korea, Taiwan, Central and South America, Canada, and Australia. Of particular significance is the recent establishment of many R&D centers in China and India by U.S., European, and Japanese chemical companies. These are not local and self-contained institutions as in the past, but parts of the companies’ global R&D organizations. Therefore, R&D of new technologies in the chemical industry result from the synergistic efforts of researchers dispersed throughout the world. Second, the degree of international cooperation in academic research has increased substantially during the last 10 years. For example, the “internationalization index,” i.e., the percentage of publications with co-authors from different parts of the world, ranges from 5% to 20% depending on the specific subarea of chemical engineering research (see Chapter 4). Based on these effects of globalization, the Panel believes that the results of this benchmarking exercise are of value for assessing the future course of U.S. chemical engineering research not only within the confines of the United States but also within the world at large. 2.2.c What Are Some Caveats? At the outset of this exercise, the Panel recognized a series of caveats in undertaking a project of this scope and magnitude. In the following paragraphs we will lay out these caveats and how the Panel dealt with them. It is important to realize that despite the presence of these caveats,

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness the occasional piece of missing information, and a series of assumptions made by the Panel, the final conclusions possess significant robustness and are supported by several independent lines of analysis with independent sets of data. Panel Composition The Panel recognized that its preponderant U.S. constituency (9 of the 12 members are from the United States) might bias its assessment, and it resolved early on to monitor the degree of this bias against other types of independent information. The presence of 3 non-U.S. panel members was very helpful in this regard. In addition, all the Panel members have extended familiarity of and experience with chemical engineering research not only in Europe but also in Asian countries. Several of the Panel members have set up industrial research centers in Asia (China, India, Japan, Singapore), and all of the Panel members have developed close collaborations with industrial and academic research centers in Europe. The Panel believes that its observations and recommendations are quite robust and well founded on the available evidence. Treatment of Data In the course of this benchmarking exercise the Panel collected a large amount of numerical data. Most of it is fairly complete, well documented, and indisputable (e.g., data on publications and citations), and only a small part is based on samples of larger data sets (e.g., patent data). Virtual World Congress The Panel recognizes that personal biases arising from higher familiarity and interaction with national colleagues could play a role in the recommendations of experts and skew the composition of the Virtual World Congress. Therefore, it has used the relative numbers of participants in conjunction with the numerical results from other sources, e.g., publications and citations. In general, the Panel found that the results of the Virtual World Congress did carry a bias of about 10%-15% but were broadly in line with other indicators. Publications and Citations The Panel recognized that analysis of publications by chemical engineers at an international scale is a task complicated by the following two factors:

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International Benchmarking of U.S. Chemical Engineering Research Competitiveness The interests of chemical engineering researchers overlap with the interests of researchers from other sciences such as chemistry, biology, applied physics, and applied mathematics, as well as those from other engineering disciplines such as electrical, biological/biomedical/bioengineering, mechanical, civil, or materials sciences. As a result, the Panel opted to refine the search of publications and explore the relative contributions by chemical engineers in the United States and other regions of the world among themselves and vis à vis researchers from other disciplines. Affiliation of a researcher with a group that carries the name “chemical engineering” limits the analysis of relative research competitiveness across the world. For example, researchers in certain countries of the European Union and Japan, who are by U.S. definition chemical engineers, are not affiliated with units carrying the name “chemical engineering” in their home institutions. Refinement of the search through the mechanisms available in Web of Science® is difficult, impractical, or impossible. Therefore, the Panel recognizes that a certain ambiguity as to what constitutes a proper comparison of chemical engineering publications by various regions of the world is present throughout Chapters 3 and 4 of this report. To overcome this ambiguity, the Panel has added an analysis of relative competitiveness by U.S. and non-U.S. researchers in each subarea across disciplinary distinctions. Publication rates and citations per paper vary widely among the various subareas of chemical engineering, and the Panel resisted making broad comparisons of different subareas in terms of these metrics. The only exception is the analysis of publications in the journals with broad coverage of chemical engineering, namely, AIChE Journal, I&EC Research, and Chemical Engineering Science, because the Panel wanted to assess the trends of publication rates in various subareas of chemical engineering over time. The number of papers in the top 100 (or 50, or 30, depending on subarea) most-cited papers in a particular subarea was used as a metric to assess impact. The Panel recognizes the potential pitfalls of such a metric, but it resolved that it is quite representative of relative significance of research contributions, especially if comparisons are limited within the scope of a specific subarea of chemical engineering.