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Project Title:

A Vision for the Future of Center-Based, Multidisciplinary Engineering Research
PIN: DEPS-NMMB-15-01        

Major Unit:

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
National Academy of Engineering

Sub Unit: NAE Office of Programs
National Materials and Manufacturing Board DEPS

RSO: Eyring, Greg

Subject/Focus Area: Education; Engineering and Technology; Policy for Science and Technology


Project Scope
An ad hoc committee will identify future directions, opportunities, and alternative approaches to large-scale engineering research centers. The results will potentially provide insights to federal and state agencies, universities, and non-profit foundations on more effective and impactful investment in-- and management of-- large-scale, multidisciplinary engineering research centers.

The central question addressed in this study is: for lasting impact in the coming decade and considering the convergence of physical science, engineering, and life science, what should be the mission, alternative future design and management, and the expected outcomes and measures of future center-scale engineering research centers?

In addressing the central question, the study will consider a number of related and more specific questions, such as:

What key research, education, and innovation needs have center-scale research programs such as NSF’s Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) been addressing? Will these needs be changing in the coming decade? In this context, what should be the vision of an engineering research center moving forward?

How might the work of the NSF ERCs be distinct from-- or complementary to-- that of other center-scale programs sponsored by NSF or other agencies?

What are the pros and cons of key program features of such centers (e.g., institutional makeup, funding timescale)?

How might the educational models of center-scale programs such as NSF’s ERCs be aligned to create a more diverse, internationally aware, and flexible engineering talent pool that is capable of addressing complex, real-world problems?

What might be the best future academic-industry partnership models to more effectively promote technology commercialization and to strengthen the innovation ecosystem?

What metrics can be used to define successes and risks of such center programs?

For each question, the study will consider a need analysis, assessment metrics, and multiple alternatives. The principal focus of this study will be prospective - looking at current thinking about the forces that are likely to shape engineering research and education in the future - not retrospective.  NSF's Engineering Research Centers would be used as useful examples or cases in the discussion, but the intent is not to evaluate them per se.

The products of the committee’s work will be 1) a symposium summary report and 2) a final report containing committee findings related to the design and implementation of multidisciplinary engineering research centers over the next 10 years (roughly, 2017-2027). The emphasis will not be on providing prescriptive recommendations, but instead on presenting the committee’s conclusions, as well as analysis of alternatives that NSF can consider in constructing a future vision for its center-scale engineering programs.


 
Project Duration: 18 months    

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Contact the Public Access Records Office to make an inquiry, request a list of the public access file materials, or obtain a copy of the materials found in the file.


Committee Membership
Committee Membership

Meetings
 Meeting 1 - 11/30/2015
 Meeting 2 - 12/14/2015
 Meeting 3 - 01/25/2016
 Meeting 4 - 02/02/2016
 Meeting 5 - 02/04/2016
 Meeting 6 - 02/17/2016
 Meeting 7 - 03/02/2016
 Meeting 8 - 03/24/2016
 Meeting 9 - 04/06/2016
 Meeting 10 - 05/19/2016
 Meeting 11 - 06/10/2016
 Meeting 12 - 06/29/2016
 Meeting 13 - 07/25/2016
 Meeting 14 - 08/30/2016

Reports

Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office