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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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A New Vision for Center-Based
Engineering Research

Committee on a Vision for the Future of Center-Based Multidisciplinary Engineering Research

National Materials and Manufacturing Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

A Consensus Study Report of

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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This activity was supported by Contract No. 10002530 and Award No. EFMA-1539798 with the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24767.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.

The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
×

Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
×

COMMITTEE ON A VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF CENTER-BASED MULTIDISCIPLINARY ENGINEERING RESEARCH

MAXINE L. SAVITZ, NAE,1 Honeywell, Inc. (retired), Co-Chair

DAVID R. WALT, NAE/NAM2, Tufts University, Co-Chair

NADINE AUBRY, NAE, Northeastern University

CHERYL R. BLANCHARD, NAE, Microchips Biotech, Inc.

ROBERT D. BRAUN, NAE, University of Colorado

CURTIS R. CARLSON, Practice of Innovation

JIM C.I. CHANG, North Carolina State University

MARTHA N. CYR, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

MIKE GREGORY, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

WILLIAM C. HARRIS, Science Foundation Arizona

FRED C. LEE, NAE, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

PHILIP M. NECHES, NAE, Teradata Corporation

MONICA OLVERA DE LA CRUZ, NAS,3 Northwestern University

DARRYLL J. PINES, University of Maryland

RICHARD RASHID, NAE, Microsoft Research, Emeritus

S. SHANKAR SASTRY, NAE, University of California, Berkeley

EDWIN L. THOMAS, NAE, Rice University

KARAN L. WATSON, Texas A&M University

YANNIS YORTSOS, NAE, University of Southern California

Staff

GREG EYRING, Senior Program Officer, National Materials and Manufacturing Board (NMMB)

NEERAJ P. GORKHALY, Associate Program Officer, NMMB

HENRY KO, Research Assistant, NMMB

JAMES LANCASTER, Acting Director, NMMB

JOSEPH PALMER, Senior Project Assistant, NMMB

MARIBETH KEITZ, Senior Program Associate, National Academy of Engineering

GREG PEARSON, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering

PROCTOR REID, Director, National Academy of Engineering Program Office

RICHARD ROWBERG, Deputy Executive Director, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

___________________

1 National Academy of Engineering.

2 National Academy of Medicine.

3 National Academy of Sciences.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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NATIONAL MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURING BOARD

CELIA MERZBACHER, ARPA-E, Chair

BEN WANG, Georgia Institute of Technology, Vice Chair

RODNEY C. ADKINS, NAE, International Business Machines Corporation (retired)

JIM C.I. CHANG, North Carolina State University

LEO CHRISTODOULOU, Boeing, Inc.

THOMAS M. DONNELLAN, Pennsylvania State University

STEPHEN FORREST, NAS/NAE, University of Michigan

ERICA FUCHS, Carnegie Mellon University

JACK HU, NAE, University of Michigan

THERESA KOTANCHEK, Evolved Analytics, LLC

DAVID LARBALESTIER, NAE, Florida State University

ROBERT D. MILLER, NAE, IBM Almaden Research Center

EDWARD MORRIS, America Makes—The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute

NICHOLAS A. PEPPAS, NAE/NAM, University of Texas, Austin

TRESSA M. POLLOCK, NAE, University of California

F. STAN SETTLES, NAE, University of Southern California

HAYDN WADLEY, University of Virginia

STEVE ZINKLE, NAE, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Staff

JAMES LANCASTER, Acting Director

ERIK B. SVEDBERG, Senior Program Officer

NEERAJ P. GORKHALY, Associate Program Officer

HEATHER LOZOWSKI, Financial Manager

JOSEPH PALMER, Senior Project Assistant

HENRY KO, Research Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
×

Preface

In July 2015, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a study on the future of center-based, multidisciplinary engineering research. At that time, NSF’s Engineering Research Center (ERC) program had been in operation for 30 years, and NSF felt it was an appropriate time to consider fresh ideas for what it should look like in coming decades. The task was not to evaluate the performance of current ERCs but to articulate a vision that NSF might want to pursue in the future for the program. In response, the National Academies established the Committee on a Vision for the Future of Center-Based, Multidisciplinary Engineering Research (Appendix A) to perform the study, which met for the first time in December 2015.

The committee held four data-gathering meetings to hear from outside presenters as well as a number of conference calls with key individuals (Appendix B). In addition, it held a symposium in April 2016 to solicit ideas from the broader engineering community. The proceedings of the symposium are available as a separate publication of the National Academies at https://www.nap.edu. Through its work, the committee learned about the structure and effectiveness of existing ERCs. The recommendations in this report do not call for a wholesale dismantling of the existing ERC program; rather the committee believes it is important to build upon the existing strengths of the ERCs by framing them to address the biggest challenges society faces both today and in the decades to come.

While it is always important to maintain a certain humility when opining on how things will be decades hence, the committee believes that the vision articulated here is consistent with the observed trends toward engineering solutions that require convergence of knowledge from formerly separate engineering disciplines in technology development, the sciences, as well as the emerging best practices in engineering education, team research, and the deliberate nurturing of innovation. In fact, NSF may wish to use this re-imagined ERC program as a vehicle to explore and engage more fully with these trends in the future.

The committee recognizes that while center-based engineering research has much to contribute to solving the big problems we face, centers cannot do everything. For example, the fraction of U.S. engineering graduates who are directly touched by the centers is less than 1 percent. Nevertheless, the centers should be able to serve as exemplars for innovation to the broader engineering community.

We wish to thank all of the committee members for their engagement in the study and their dedication in producing this report in a short period of time. We also want to thank the many individuals who made presentations to the committee or otherwise provided advice and information. The outside reviewers and National Academies monitor provided insightful comments and improved the quality of the report. Sincere thanks are also due to the

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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terrific National Academies staff: Greg Eyring, Greg Pearson, Jim Lancaster, Proctor Reid, Dick Rowberg, Henry Ko, Joe Palmer, Neeraj Gorkhaly, and Maribeth Keitz. We’d like to give special thanks to Greg Eyring whose tireless efforts helped the committee achieve its goals.

David R. Walt and Maxine L. Savitz, Co-Chairs
Committee on a Vision for the Future of Center-Based, Multidisciplinary Engineering Research

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
×

Acknowledgment of Reviewers

This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Linda M. Abriola, NAE,1 Tufts University,

Cynthia J. Atman, University of Washington,

Jesse H. Ausubel, The Rockefeller University,

Persis S. Drell, NAS,2 Stanford University,

Alastair M. Glass, NAE, Irish Photonics Integration Centre,

Kara Hall, National Institutes of Health,

Anita K. Jones, NAE, University of Virginia,

John E. Kelly, NAE, International Business Machines Corporation,

Mark H. Kryder, NAE, Carnegie Mellon University,

Vilas Mujumdar, Independent Consultant,

Gintaras V. Reklaitis, NAE, Purdue University,

John J. Tracy, NAE, The Boeing Company, and

Jeffrey Wadsworth, NAE, Battelle.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Paul R. Gray, University of California, Berkeley, and Arden L. Bement, Jr., Purdue University, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.

___________________

1 National Academy of Engineering.

2 National Academy of Sciences.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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Dedicated to

Erich Bloch

NSF Director (1984-1990) who initiated the ERCs and STCs

24th recipient of the National Science Board’s Vannevar Bush Award and distinguished member of the NAE who led the development of IBM 360

1925-2016

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24767.
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The future security, economic growth, and competitiveness of the United States depend on its capacity to innovate. Major sources of innovative capacity are the new knowledge and trained students generated by U.S. research universities. However, many of the complex technical and societal problems the United States faces cannot be addressed by the traditional model of individual university research groups headed by a single principal investigator. Instead, they can only be solved if researchers from multiple institutions and with diverse expertise combine their efforts. The National Science Foundation (NSF), among other federal agencies, began to explore the potential of such center-scale research programs in the 1970s and 1980s; in many ways, the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program is its flagship program in this regard.

The ERCs are “interdisciplinary, multi-institutional centers that join academia, industry, and government in partnership to produce transformational engineered systems and engineering graduates who are adept at innovation and primed for leadership in the global economy. To ensure that the ERCs continue to be a source of innovation, economic development, and educational excellence, A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research explores the future of center-based engineering research, the skills needed for effective center leadership, and opportunities to enhance engineering education through the centers.

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