It is impossible to understand just what the most important results of this visit were. There were a number of applications of acoustic technology that were both exciting to consider and important to advancing the state of the art in this field. Due to limited time, it was not possible to truly understand the technical accomplishments of the technologists. Yet, their ideas were intriguing and their concepts novel. More should be done to fully understand many of these efforts.
One question that surfaced repeatedly was how far specific applications had been taken. It was not clear, at times, whether a discussion was of a concept not yet moved to hardware; a concept for which a prototype had been developed; a concept that had been evaluated in a real world setting; or a concept that had already advanced to a product.
It was also unclear, at times, what the future held for specific applications that were being discussed. With limited resources and a very dynamic environment, the future of an idea is uncertain. Many of the applications discussed could well be moved into viable products readily sought after in the world marketplace. Whether they will reach the marketplace is not clear.
It was recognized by many members of the WTEC team that solutions to technological problems had been implemented on computer hardware of limited capability. Emphasis was placed on efficient algorithms and clearly understanding the principles of the problem. Many in the West can remember how their first efforts at applying microcomputers to instrumentation forced the use of machine languages and complex interface programming. This is not unlike what seems to be the norm in the FSU. The benefit of this has been that technologists in the FSU developed unique solutions to complex programming problems.
There is a genuine desire for cooperation and collaboration. On one hand, this is obvious since funding and equipment resources are lacking. More importantly, however, is the perception that technologists in Russia and Ukraine truly believe that cooperation and collaboration will bring new insights and further advance their technological interests. The individuals involved in the visits were very talented technical people. Much would be benefitted by the synergism that results from true cooperation.
An interesting factor recognized during many discussions was that the current environment in Russia and Ukraine allows technologists the freedom to choose their own research directions. This has not been possible in the past since resources were directed at specific projects planned outside of the various institutions. It is clear that this change will allow researchers to consider new directions not possible in the past.
One recommendation that should be made results from the WTEC team's unanimous agreement that the time available for the visits did not allow for in-depth discussions. This was probably inevitable for this first series of visits, but should, most certainly, be corrected during future visits. There is much to learn in the FSU regarding acoustic applications. Learning is always a slow process that follows a less than straightforward path. Future visits should allow time for technical discussions with the actual professionals involved in moving applications from concept to reality.