The combination, which we call concrete, has given rise to a great number of associations to market it, its ingredients or mechanical accessories, and to learn about its behavior or drape it with specifications instructing people what it should be and what it should do. Although these groups wrestle with the material year after year, the new knowledge that surfaces at a fairly satisfying pace is seldom earthshaking. Most technical and practical innovations are refinements of past developments. The reason for the static posture of concrete technology lies in the research and development. Although considerable research and some development are taking place in the concrete community today, two observations are noteworthy. First, much of the research is hampered by lack of adequate funding, research hardware, competent personnel or combinations of these. Second and perhaps more important, entirely too much research is misdirected. Too much of it is either a modest retread of earlier work by other researchers or research that is entirely too academic in concept to find useful application in the reasonably near future. Possibly some of it is more nearly problem solving than research; that is, research-like effort that attempts to identify which one of a number of situations known to be undesirable is responsible for a condition known to be unacceptable. In no way, after all the problem solving effort is finished, do the discoveries alter the end result. Nor does it modify the unavoidable realization that the trouble should not have been allowed to occur in the first place. If this is a reasonably accurate portrayal and not too highly exaggerated, how can we expect to deal with some of the other equally important issues we face? How can we find new, nontraditional uses for concrete? How can we keep pace with allied branches of the construction materials industry? How can we do our share to help replace increasingly scarce timber products? It is a strange paradox that at a time of abundant opportunity and great need to broaden the concrete base that prerequisite research and development programs are perhaps at their lowest ebb.
Will You Be Building with Concrete in the Future?
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