The construction industry is America's largest industry. Currently it performs more than $300 million of work per year ard employs 5.5 million workers. These workers combined with the suppliers of materials, machinery, insurance, and designs account for 17 percent of the work force. Construction has comprised 55 to 65 percent of the nation's capital investment. The U.S. construction industry has suffered setbacks abroad. International construction markets have shrunk and U.S. share in those smaller markets has decreased. At the same time the U.S. construction industry suffers from severe under investment in research and technology development, with an estimated investment of only .39% of gross receipts, much below those of other U.S. industries, and substantially less than the construction industry of those countries with which we might be expected to compete. In discussion with the NationaI Academy of Engineering (NAE) there has developed a suggestion that the Building Research Board (BRB) organize and conduct a study of science and technology opportunities for the U.S. construction industry to meet the challenge of foreign competition at home and abroad. In the spirit of the NAE Technological Leadership Program, the proposed study will parallel a number of previous studies organized by the NAE on U.S. industry competition--involving automobiles, electronics, steel, textiles, machine tools, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation manufacturing. A committee of approximately 15 leaders in the construction field will be established, representing academic, industry and government participants in decision-making positions. The committee, which will meet four times in the course fo the first year will be supported by BRB staff and consultants in preparation of their report, which will include recommendations for industrial response, and for university research activity. Funds are also provided for by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the International Development Cooperation Agency, the National Academy of Engineering and the BRB Advanced Building Technology Council. An award for partial support is recommended.

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National Research Council
United States
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