Visible to the public Interim Report on 21st Century Cyber-Physical Systems Education

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are increasingly relied on to provide functionality and value to products, systems, and infrastructure in sectors including transportation (aviation, automotive, rail, and marine), health care, manufacturing, and electrical power generation and distribution. CPS are smart, networked systems with embedded sensors, computer processors, and actuators that sense and interact with the physical world (including people); support real-time, guaranteed performance; and are often found in critical applications. Cyber-physical systems have the potential to provide much richer functionality, including efficiency, flexibility, autonomy, and reliability, than systems that are loosely coupled, discrete, or manually operated, but also can create vulnerability related to security and reliability. Advances in CPS could yield systems that can communicate and respond faster than humans (e.g., autonomous collision avoidance for automobiles) or more precisely (e.g., robotic surgery); enable better control and coordination of large-scale systems, such as the electrical grid or traffic controls; improve the efficiency of systems (e.g., "smart buildings"); and enable advances in many areas of science. As CPS become more pervasive, so too will demand for a workforce with the capacity and capability to design, develop, and maintain them.

Building on its research program in CPS, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has begun to explore requirements for education and training. As part of that exploration, NSF asked the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies to study the topic and prepare interim and final reports examining the need for and content of a cyber-physical systems education. The results of this study are intended to inform those who might support efforts to develop curricula and materials (such as NSF), faculty and university administrators, industries with needs for CPS workers, and current and potential students about intellectual foundations, opportunities, and curricular needs.

To gather perspectives on these topics, the Committee on 21st Century Cyber-Physical Systems Education, appointed by the NRC, convened two workshops (on April 30, 2014, and October 2-3, 2014, in Washington, D.C.) and received briefings from additional experts from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on June 26, 2014, via teleconference. Chapter 1 summarizes material presented at the workshops and in the briefings. The committee has also conducted initial deliberations and identified several emerging themes, which are discussed in Chapter 2. Following issuance of this interim report, the committee will continue its information gathering and deliberations and issue its final report providing its findings and recommendations later in 2015.

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Interim Report on 21st Century Cyber-Physical Systems Education
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