Ceramic Industry

INSIDE CI: Focus on the Positive

July 31, 2008
The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

It’s times like these that I really wish I could get into meditation. Between economy woes, natural disasters and various wars and conflicts around the world, the news can be a little overwhelming these days. A few minutes of quiet time without worries running a constant loop through my mind sounds fantastic. I’ve tried to meditate, I really have. Unfortunately, I start thinking about why I can’t stop thinking and just end up more frustrated. I’m a natural-born worrier. In fact, even when nothing bothersome is happening, I’m likely to worry about why things are so quiet.

It was therefore with great relief that I read about a recent report from RAND Corp., a nonprofit research organization, which discovered that the U.S. continues to lead the world in science and technology. “Much of the concern about the United States losing its edge as the world’s leader in science and technology appears to be unfounded,” said Titus Galama, co-author of the report and a management scientist at RAND. The report found that 40% of worldwide spending for scientific R&D takes place in the U.S., which also houses three-quarters of the world’s top 40 universities.

Whew, we can strike that particular panic attack off the list-at least for a while. The report’s authors warn that the U.S. cannot become complacent in its leading position. Other countries are increasing R&D spending and some are outpacing the U.S. in graduation rates for university-educated scientists and engineers. (Visit www.rand.org for additional details or to purchase the report.)

This issue of CI features our annual R&D Overview, which highlights some of the amazing ceramic and glass technology advances from around the world. Managing Editor Brian Hayes has compiled research efforts from organizations ranging from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Savannah River National Laboratory to NASA and Clemson University. See “Advancing Ceramic & Glass Technology.”

In addition to working on continual R&D advancements, it’s important for us all to strive to make our businesses and industries successful. More brick manufacturers are investigating the potential cost- and energy-saving benefits of firing with alternative fuels, for example. Especially in this challenging environment, measuring the savings will become more and more important (see “Testing Alternative Fuels in Brick Manufacturing”).

One example close to home for us at CI comes from leading media auditor BPA Worldwide, which recently named Taggart Henderson, BNP Media co-CEO, to its board of directors. BNP is publisher of Ceramic Industry and over 50 other business-to-business trade magazines. Congratulations to Tagg, whose three-year term has already begun, and everyone at BNP who will benefit from his involvement in this important industry organization.