New chief NSF engineer says key to job is consensus

The National Science Foundation has named Eugene Wong its new assistant director for
engineering.


Wong replaces Joseph Bordogna, now acting deputy director of NSF.


Wong was one of the designers of Ingres, an early relational database management system
now sold by Computer Associates International Inc. He comes to NSF from a position as
chief scientist at Vision Software Tools Inc. of Oakland, Calif.


Wong also is an emeritus professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at
the University of California at Berkeley.


He served from 1990 to 1993 as associate director in the White House’s Office of
Science and Technology Policy.


"I think the diversity of my experience will be useful in this position,"
Wong said.


As head of the Engineering Directorate, Wong will manage an annual budget of about $320
million.


The directorate both funds and conducts research in physical, chemical, biological and
electrical engineering.


This year, the Electrical and Communications Systems Branch will concentrate on
micrometer and nanometer semiconductor architectures and molecular-size structures for
advanced computing.


Also on the agenda is data-intensive simulation and design over broadband networks.


Wong said he has not yet developed an agenda of his own for the directorate.


He said he learned during his stint with the Office of Science and Technology Policy
that "Washington is a very big ship, and if you want to move it in any direction, you
have to get a lot of people behind it."


He plans to take his time building a consensus. Information technology is becoming more
and more application-oriented, he said, and he expects the Engineering Directorate to
become more application-driven, too.


"This is a very good time to be involved in science and technology," Wong
said, because money is available for basic research.


The federal government has a recognized role as a catalyst for scientific development
and as a forger of unity among scientists, he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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