WASHINGTON—A newly released study by the National Science Foundation reveals what many academic researchers know only too well: The quality and amount of instrumentation available in the physical and computer sciences and engineering are not keeping pace with their needs.

A survey of of the largest U.S. research universities, conducted in 1985, revealed that 51 percent of the engineering chairs felt that present equipment within their departments prevents faculty from pursuing major research interests. Forty-three percent of computer science chairs felt that way, as did 33 percent of physical sciences chairs. Their unhappiness was somewhat less than NSF found in a 1982 survey, however, when 45 percent of computer science chairs and 40 percent of physical science chairs felt that their department’s equipment was inadequate. Dissatisfaction has grown slightly among engineers, however, from 49 percent in 1982.

A small proportion of chairs thought their department’s equipment was excellent. Among engineers...

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