The emergence of nondestructive evaluation as a factor to be considered in the entire life cycle of materials, from design, through fabrication of components and structures, to in-service monitoring, is reviewed. Current directions in research and development and in practical application are discussed within the context of NDE as an engineering function. Particular emphasis is directed towards reliability, requirements for in-process and health monitoring, and implementation for the inspection and analysis of composite materials, that offer a particularly challenging domain in which to demonstrate the performance of NDE techniques and procedures.

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