Modalities of the industry cooperation are cited more explicitly in, for example, the following solicitation:
Active cooperation with industry, to stimulate and facilitate knowledge transfer among the participants and strengthen the links between university-based research and its application…. Cooperative activities may include, but are not limited to: joint research programs; affiliate programs; joint development and use of shared facilities; visiting scientist programs; joint educational ventures; joint seminar series, colloquia or workshops; stimulation of new business ventures; involvement of external advisory groups; and industrial outreach programs. (MRSEC Program Solicitation NSF 97-98)
The MRSEC program stresses flexibility in each center’s approach to setting research directions, seed projects, and outreach and education:
Each MRSEC has the responsibility to manage and evaluate its own operation with respect to program administration, planning, content and direction. NSF support is intended to promote optimal use of university resources and capabilities, and to provide maximum flexibility … in developing cooperative activities with other organizations and sectors…. [Emphasis added.]
Thus, the National Science Foundation solicitations cited are consistent with the view that industrial collaboration in the context of the MRSEC charter should be an integral part of the MRSEC program. Its implementation should be flexible and consistent with the size, capabilities, mission, and vision of each individual MRSEC. It is important to note that industrial collaboration includes cooperation and interaction with relevant sectors involved with the application of materials research beyond just commercial industries. Consequently, industrial collaboration includes national laboratories and other federal entities (e.g., Department of Defense [DOD] laboratories) that apply the results of basic materials research to address important technical needs.
Materials science and engineering (MSE) is a key national resource. The recent decline in basic and exploratory materials research and development (R&D) in industry transfers the responsibility to universities not only to do transformational research in the area but also to transfer the knowledge obtained to industry for its application. Knowledge transfer to industry to facilitate the application of university research is especially critical for maintaining the preeminence of the United States in materials science and technology in today’s global and technology-based economy. The effective transfer of knowledge from the university to industry is crucial to achieving the goals of the “American Competitiveness Initiative” promulgated by the President and Congress in early 2006. As such, it is most appropriate to continue industry collaboration and knowledge transfer as an integral part of the MRSEC program.