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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
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Our Mission

The mission of the Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS) is to provide independent and authoritative science, technology, engineering and related policy advice to the federal government and to the nation and to promote communications between the science and technology community, the federal government, and the interested public.

DEPS seeks to assess the role of science and technology in important public policy issues and to advance science and engineering, identifying needed research as well as improvements in data and research methods. In these ways, it fosters better science and technology and their use to support decisions on public policies and programs.

DEPS’ work is organized around four broad areas:

  • Unique government missions in defense, space, and aerospace
  • National infrastructure challenges such as energy and environmental systems, information and telecommunications, manufacturing and engineering design, civil engineering, and the constructed environment
  • Science and engineering disciplines such as physics, astronomy, computer science and engineering, materials science and engineering, and the mathematical sciences and their applications.
  • Continuing assessments of federal government laboratories and research programs 

Defense, intelligence, national security, space, and aerospace

The Intelligence Community Studies Board (ICSB) serves as the convening authority for the discussion of science and technology issues of importance to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In coordination with ODNI and other agencies of the IC, the ICSB provides the governance structure for studies, workshops, symposia, and expert meetings on science and technology topics of interest to the IC. The principal sponsor of the ICSB is the Director of S&T, ODNI; however, the intent is to make ICSB resources and publications available to all intelligence agencies.

The Air Force Studies Board (AFSB) serves as a convening authority for the discussion of science and technology issues of importance to the Air Force oversees independent ad hoc studies conducted by committees of experts in military, aerospace, and other related industries. The board's recent studies have recommended solutions to the evolving needs of the Air Force in personnel management and training and technology development and acquisition.

The Board on Army Science and Technology (BAST) serves as a convening authority for the discussion of science and technology issues of importance to the Army and formulates independent Army-related studies to be conducted by expert committees. The BAST's reports have examined the Army's body armor testing processes, its chemical weapons disposal program, and issues related to soldier health, equipment, organization, decision making, and training.

The mission of the  Naval Studies Board (NSB), created in 1974 at the request of the Chief of Naval operations, is to be a source of independent, long-range, scientific and technical planning advice for U.S. Naval Forces. Recent studies have examined global terrorism, climate change, information assurance, and emerging technologies along with their effect on future naval operations.

The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) was established to bring the knowledge and expertise of the aerospace engineering community to bear on significant aerospace policies and programs. The ASEB examines and reports on problems and issues involving various aspects of aeronautics and space technology such as aerodynamics, materials, structure, fuels, avionics, propulsion, human-machine integration, safety, and priorities for future technology development.

The Space Studies Board (SSB) provides an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications, and it serves as the focal point within the National Academies for activities on space research. The SSB conducts advisory studies and program assessments, facilitates the coordination of international research, and promotes communications on space science and space policy between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public.


National infrastructure

The Board on Energy and Environmental Systems (BEES) conducts studies and other activities which provide independent advice to the executive and legislative branches of government and the private sector on energy and environmental technology and related public policy issues. The BEES directs expert attention to the technologies and systems involved in energy supply, distribution, and demand. It also addresses related issues in defense and homeland security such as protection of critical energy infrastructure against potential terrorist attacks.

The Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment (BICE) advises the executive and legislative branches of government and the private sector on questions of technology, science, and public policy relevant to the relationship between the constructed and natural environments and their interaction with human activities. the BICE brings together in an independent forum experts from a wide range of scientific, engineering, an social science disciplines to address problems and issues in these areas.

The National Materials and Manufacturing Board (NMMB) combines the charges of two pre-existing boards: the National Materials Advisory Board and the Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design. The NMMB's mission is to build on the past achievements of its parent boards by providing objective independent assessments of the current state of materials and manufacturing research - from the atomic, molecular, and nano scales to bulk materials - and the applications of new and existing materials in innovative ways.

The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) provides a base of expertise in the fields of computer science, information technology, and telecommunications. It initiates studies involving these fields as critical resources and sources of national economic strength in response to requests for advice from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private industry. The CSTB also monitors and promotes the health of these fields and fosters their interaction with other areas of science and technology.


Physical science, engineering disciplines, and assessment of laboratory research programs

The Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications (BMSA) provides expertise drawn from a wide range of mathematical sciences to conduct independent and rigorous assessments of science, engineering, medical, and policy issues in the service of national interest. Current areas of emphasis include responsible and effective use of computational models; creation of knowledge from large amounts od data; mathematical and statistical underpinnings of risk analysis; and guidance for mathematical sciences funding agencies.

The Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA) seeks to inform the government and the public regarding important scientific opportunities and issues as well as the changing nature of science by building bridges between the evolving sub-disciplines of physics and astronomy and between these and other areas of science. The BPA is successful if it helps both the science community and the society understand what is needed to continue the advance of physics an astronomy and why dong so is important.

The Laboratory Assessments Board (LAB) oversees the National Research Council's review and assessment of the technical quality of research conducted at laboratories and at government-owned, contractor-operated facilities. Assessments are performed by appointed committees under the auspices of the LAB and established separately for each institution and/or laboratory to be reviewed. The Army Research Laboratory Technical Assessment Board (ARLTAB) performs annual peer assessments of the scientific and technical quality of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). The Committee on the National Institute of Standards and Technology Technical Programs oversees technical assessments of the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories conducted by separately appointed panels established for that purpose.