An ad hoc study committee will develop a vision and high-level, strategic recommendations for the future of NSF-supported center-scale, multidisciplinary engineering research. The study will be forward-looking—focusing on the forces that are likely to shape engineering research, education, and technological innovation in the future, as well as the associated challenges and opportunities. It will consider and evaluate the most promising models and approaches for multidisciplinary engineering research that can successfully address these challenges and opportunities. NSF’s Engineering Research Centers will be used as prominent examples or cases in the study, but the intent is not to evaluate them. The study will also be informed by other models of large-scale, multidisciplinary engineering research in the United States and other parts of the world.
The products of the committee’s work will be: (1) a rapporteur-authored summary of a symposium, and (2), a final consensus report containing committee findings and strategic recommendations that include inspiring visions for center-scale research in engineering over the next 10-20 years, new models for innovation that connect center research to real-world impacts, the appropriate role and emerging models for such centers in education and broadening participation, and how to continuously enable breakthrough engineering research by attracting the most innovative and diverse talent in the field. The report will focus on describing visions and opportunities for the future of multidisciplinary center-scale engineering programs, and presenting guiding principles and strategic recommendations for realizing the new visions and opportunities rather than evaluating the current center construct and suggesting evolutionary improvements.