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The National Science Foundation’s Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers Program: Looking Back, Moving Forward
University-Affiliated Research Centers The DOD University-Affiliated Research Center program creates research centers within universities for military applications. Examples of such centers are the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, with MIT and the California Institute of Technology as subcontractors; and the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. These centers each receive about $10 million per year from the Army Research Office and focus on basic and applied research, including applied research collaborative with industry, with an emphasis, for example, on meeting soldier needs via new products for communication, situational awareness, personal protection, and energy supply.
The MRSEC program is the latest stage in the evolutionary development of group research in materials funded by the National Science Foundation. The challenge faced by this study committee was to examine the health of this program after more than a decade in the present mode and to suggest opportunities for improvements as NSF contemplates the next stage in this evolution.