FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS

Although all of the objectives of the site visit were not met, many insights were gleaned from the visits and the discussions, as summarized below.

Relative Level of Technology

In Western Europe the technology developments are very similar to those efforts in the United States. Some of the sonar imaging systems are more interesting than similar units manufactured in the United States due to price/performance issues. However, the situation is different in Russia and Ukraine.

Understanding of Basic Theory. The researchers participating in the discussions were clearly aware of the basic principles of the technology with which they were involved. The limitation of computer capability and the need for efficient problem solutions may have forced this need for in-depth basic understanding. The situation in the United States is clearly different, where computer capability and the cost of people may force development to proceed along different lines, where an engineering solution may be more important than reaching a total understanding of all aspects of a problem.

Application Ideas. New applications are under consideration by researchers in Russia and Ukraine. Some of these ideas had not been considered in the United States, at least within the circles represented by the members of the WTEC team. It may well be that the new freedom to consider research directions has allowed researchers to consider novel applications of technology. It may also be that having to compete in a world marketplace demands new products and ideas.

Implementation Software and Implementation Hardware. Research in Russia and Ukraine has been undertaken in an environment with limited computer hardware capability. However, this limitation has probably resulted in an emphasis on efficient algorithms and highly capable microprogramming in the development of Russian software.

Maturity of Applications. Although Russia and Ukraine have explored applications of technology that are interesting and novel, the actual maturity of those applications is not clear. Many of the technological concepts discussed were in their conceptual stages only. With limited financial resources, it is unclear just how many of those applications will come to fruition.

Infrastructure. The changes in the FSU have had a strong impact on the technology infrastructure. Communications among various groups is unclear. Also, the method for moving from concept to final prototype was controlled very completely in the past; the resources needed to accomplish a development effort were planned and in place. It seems that this is no longer the case. It will take time for a new infrastructure to evolve in the present environment.

Perceived Needs

A number of factors impacting technology development in the FSU were apparent during the WTEC team's visits and discussions in Russia and Ukraine. These are not necessarily related to technology development, but are rather important to the process used to develop technology. The following sections identify some of those issues.

Publishing in Professional Journals. It was clear from discussions with the WTEC team's hosts in Russia and Ukraine that technologists there do not understand how to publish their work in professional journals, or which journals best suit their interests and technological focus. Many researchers in the FSU realize that they should publish their work to make the results of their efforts more widely known. There has been little need in the past to do this since their efforts were part of a coordinated plan. It is far more important now, and there is much interest in doing so.

Acquire Better Computer Hardware. There is a limited amount of computer capability for implementing new ideas. The need for more capable computer systems hardware is clear. Access to that hardware by a larger group of individual researchers would have a profound effect on technological developments in the FSU.

Establish Better Communication Channels. Discussions at specific institutes often referred to cooperative efforts outside of the organization. There seemed, however, to be little substantive communication between many of the people working an a specific project and outside researchers. It has been suggested that there was little need for this in the past. Recent changes make the need for this far more important. How this evolves and at what level communication channels are put in place will directly affect future technological developments. The Russian and Ukrainian technical communities are being heavily affected by the dynamics of ongoing change. Effective communication will temper the impact of that change. Better Understand How To Do Business With the West. The Western countries represent a marketplace for the technological capabilities that exist in Russia and Ukraine. Many of the acoustic applications mentioned in the discussions would most definitely be of interest to potential users in the United States and other countries. How business is conducted in these countries and the factors that guide business decisions are not well understood in the FSU. This lack of understanding must be dealt with if products, application concepts, and technical capability are to be marketed in the Western countries.

Better Understand Technology Outside of the FSU. In some of the institutions, it was clear that individuals were aware of technical developments in the United States and other countries. For the most part, however, the current level of technology existing outside the FSU was not well understood. Much of this undoubtedly lies in the fact that access to professional journals and individual contacts is limited. As this understanding increases, the level of technological development will be more clearly understood.


Published: June 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian