updated 10/12/2005 6:29:06 PM ET 2005-10-12T22:29:06

The federal government was urged Wednesday to launch a broad program supporting science education, research and innovation in an effort to maintain the nation's economic dominance.

Leadership in science and technology helped make the United States a world leader, but there are indications that could slip away, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences warned.

For example, 70,000 engineers were graduated in the United States last year, compared with 350,000 in India and 600,000 in China, the committee said in a new report. And in 2001, U.S. industry spent more on liability lawsuits than on research and development.

The report calls for four main efforts to shore up the nation's position.

  • Improve math and science education in elementary and high schools by establishing a merit-based scholarship program to attract 10,000 students per year to careers teaching math and science.
  • Increase the nation's investment in basic research by 10 percent each year for the next seven years, with a special emphasis on physical science, math, engineering and information science.
  • Provide 25,000 new undergraduate scholarships each year and 5,000 new graduate fellowships for U.S. citizens enrolled in physical science, life science and math programs in American colleges and universities.
  • Modernize the U.S. patent system, provide tax credits to companies that increase research and development, ensure affordable broadband Internet access.

Other recommendations included providing automatic visa extensions to foreign students who have received doctorate degrees who want to seek employment in the United States and establishing an advanced research agency within the Department of Energy.

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