Systems Challenges for the Next Decade

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In the past decade, extraordinary technological advances have been made in the fields of control, communication, computing, and sensor technologies. However, the ability to integrate these technologies into better systems has not kept pace with the advances within the disciplines themselves. Although continuing advances can be expected within each of these disciplines, their full potential cannot be realized without the ability to integrate those technologies into better products and processes. The ability to integrate these advanced technologies has been slowed by a number of barriers. In order to achieve the advances that will be made possible by the integration of these technologies into heterogeneous systems, it is essential that those barriers be identified and overcome. Scientists and engineers across all U.S. industrial sectors are attempting to overcome the barriers within their individual industries. However, it is increasingly clear that many of these barriers extend beyond sector boundaries and, thus, are common to many industries. On December 8, 1994, the Institute for Systems Research hosted an industrial workshop to identify the barriers that are common across more than one industry in order to (1) focus national research efforts on removing those barriers with the greatest payoff, and (2) leverage existing industry efforts through a national networking effort. The workshop included presentations by representative from the automotive, communications, and semiconductor industries on the gains that can be achieved by fully integrating advanced technologies into their products and processes. These presentations were followed by a facilitated workshop in which invited participants from a wide range of U.S. industries were invited to identify the barriers that exist within their industry sectors. The participants were then asked to collaborate to identify those barriers that exist across industry sectors.