NSF awards $68 million for new engineering centers

October 03, 2003

ARLINGTON, Va.- The National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, announces four new Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), an initial estimated NSF investment of $68 million over the next five years.

The centers will conduct pioneering research in emerging technologies and train the next generation of engineers. Each center, while based at a university, is a collaborative partnership, drawing together individuals and resources from such entities as universities, industry partners, and state governments. The maximum possible duration of NSF support is 10 years, after which the ERCs are expected to become self-sufficient.

"The ERCs advance knowledge and develop new technologies to transform U.S. industry. The centers foster collaboration among researchers from many disciplines and provide an educational and research environment that prepares a new generation of engineering leaders", said Dr. John Brighton, Assistant Director for Engineering at NSF.

NSF will provide roughly $17 million to each center over the next five years, with each center focusing on a specific area:

· Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Science and Technology (EUV ERC), headquartered at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, will develop short-wavelength, optical measurement instrumentation to further nanoscience and nanotechnology research.

· Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC), headquartered at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, will develop environmentally benign catalytic processes to reduce pollution from the manufacture of chemicals.

· Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA), headquartered at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will develop sensing networks and information systems to improve the detection, understanding and prediction of severe storms and other atmospheric hazards, with the goal of ultimately saving lives and reducing property loss.

· Engineering Research Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems (BMES), headquartered at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will develop enhanced microelectronic systems to enable implantable devices to treat blindness, paralysis and loss of cognitive function.

Including the new awards, NSF supports 24 {{Engineering Research Centers --http://www.eng.nsf.gov/eec/erc.htm}} in the fields of Bioengineering, Earthquake Engineering, Design, Manufacturing and Product Development Systems, and Microelectronic Systems and Information Technology.

Brief descriptions of the new centers follow.

Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Science and Technology (EUV ERC)

· NSF has awarded $16,998,151 to support the initial five years of a ten-year cooperative agreement.

· The EUV ERC researchers will explore the interface of physics, electrical engineering, chemistry, and biology using high-energy, extremely-short-wavelength, light. Potentially, the center will provide a foundation for routine microscopic observations and manipulations at the nanoscale in times measured in femtoseconds. Researchers will explore new sources for coherent light generation in the EUV spectral region, as well as sophisticated optical components and detection systems.

· The EUV ERC will be headquartered at Colorado State University and will operate in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California at Berkeley. A key affiliate is the Department of Energy Center for X-ray Optics at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, also in Berkeley.

· Currently, there is a start-up partnership with four semiconductor manufacturers, (Intel, Motorola, AMD, and IBM), Sematech (a consortium of semiconductor manufacturers), a laser manufacturer (Spectra Physics), and an advanced optics manufacturer (CDM Optics). Nine additional firms have expressed interest.

· Outreach will involve year-round research experiences with undergraduates and faculty from the ERC and the following institutions that serve underrepresented groups: Agnes Scott College, Bryn Mawr College, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. Harvey Mudd College, Sewanee University of the South, Hamline University, Brigham Young University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Davis at Livermore, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory will also be U.S. outreach affiliates in research and education. Pre-college outreach includes students and teachers from high schools that serve predominantly underrepresented minority populations in Pueblo, Denver, and Fort Collins, Colorado.

· Related research is being published in the October 3 issue of the journal Science. In their paper, "Coherent Soft X-ray Generation in the Water Window with Quasi-Phase Matching," University of Colorado EUV ERC researchers have generated coherent light in the "water window" region of the soft x-ray spectrum at a wavelength of 4.4 nanometers. The findings open the door for research in a new region of the light spectrum and may speed the development of compact soft x-ray sources for applications in biomicroscopy and in chemical spectroscopy.

Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis (CEBC)

· NSF has awarded $17,000,000 to support the initial five years of a ten-year cooperative agreement.

· The ERC intends to transform chemical manufacturing by developing processes that minimize environmental pollution and energy use. The team of chemists, biochemists, chemical engineers, and manufacturing engineers will explore underlying fundamentals and test new processes in partnership with industry in a range of test beds that includes a pilot plant.

· CEBC will be headquartered at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and will operate in partnership with the University of Iowa in Iowa City and Washington University at St. Louis in Missouri.

· Outreach will involve CEBC faculty and undergraduates through a summer research experience and a visiting scholars program. The outreach will extend to the following institutions that serve underrepresented groups: Garden City Community College, Kansas City Community College, Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. Additional participants include faculty and students from Iowa State University, Kansas State University, the University of Notre Dame, Oklahoma State University, and Wichita State University. Pre-college outreach will involve the Kansas City and Iowa City public schools and the NSF-supported St. Louis Inner Ring Mathematics and Science Partnership. The Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories are outreach affiliates in research and education.

· Potential partnerships initially involve seven chemical manufacturers, including DuPont, Praxair, Rohm and Haas, and Procter & Gamble.

· The EPSCoR Program will join with the ERC Program to support CEBC for the first three years.

Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA)

· NSF has awarded $17,000,000 to support the initial five years of a ten-year cooperative agreement.

· CASA researchers will focus on prediction, detection, and understanding of severe storms and other atmospheric and airborne hazards. Engineers, computer scientists, atmospheric scientists, and social scientists will collaborate to develop low-cost sensor networks for more accurate forecasts and near-real-time storm warning information systems. Systems will gather information not available from current weather observing systems in the region of the atmosphere where tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and other hazards form. Currently, the nation's weather observation systems are fundamentally constrained in sensitivity and resolution and unable to view much of the lower atmosphere due to the sparse distribution of weather radar systems.

· CASA will be headquartered at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and will operate in partnership with Colorado State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Massachusetts Department of Education will be strategic affiliates.

· Center outreach will include high school-level activities in partnership with the Springfield, Mass. public schools, community college-level activities with the Springfield Technical Community College, and college-level activities at Clark-Atlanta University, Mount Holyoke College, Tufts University, Rice University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Delaware.

· This ERC will be supported in partnership with the Division of Atmospheric Sciences in the Directorate for Geosciences.

· The ERC is based on a partnership with sensor system and information technology companies (including Raytheon, M/A-Com, Telephonics, and IBM); manufacturers of weather sensors, software, and services, (Vaisala, Baron Services, The Weather Channel, Weather Services International, and Vieux Associates); and public and private-sector end users of weather products (Texas Medical Center, the National Weather Service, and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey).

Engineering Research Center for Biomimetic Microelectronic Systems (BMES)

· NSF has awarded $16,997,485 to support the initial five years of a ten-year cooperative agreement.

· BMES will bring physicians, biologists, and engineers together to develop microelectronic systems that interact with living, human tissues. The resulting technology will enable implantable/portable devices that can treat presently incurable diseases such as blindness, loss of neuromuscular control, paralysis, and the loss of cognitive function. The researchers will focus on mixed signal systems on a chip, power and data management, intelligent analog circuits, interface technology at the nano- and micro-scales to integrate microelectronic systems with neurons, and new materials designed to prevent rejection.

· BMES will be headquartered at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and will operate in partnership with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and the University of California at Santa Cruz.

· The ERC will work with the medical device and information technology industries.

· The partner institutions will collaborate with the California State University at Los Angeles which serves a predominantly underrepresented-minority student body. Pre-college outreach will be built on an award-winning USC outreach program and will involve middle and high school students and their teachers. The BMES will also collaborate with the Braille Institute in Los Angeles and the Exploratorium Science Museum in San Francisco to bring information about these emerging technologies to the disabled and general public.
-end-
Images: http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/news/03/pr03115_images.htm

NSF Program Officers:
ERC Program and CASA Center: Lynn Preston, 703-292-5348, lpreston@nsf.gov
CASA Center: Steven Nelson, 703-292-8524, snelson@nsf.gov
EUV Center: Filbert Bartoli, 703-292-5388, fbartoli@nsf.gov
CEBC Center: Tappan Mukherjee, 703-292-5353, tmukherj@nsf.gov
BMES Center: Leon Esterowitz, 703-292-7942, lesterow@nsf.gov

Principal Investigators :
EUV Center: Dr. Jorge Rocca, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Colorado State University, 970-491-8299, rocca@engr.colostate.edu

CEBC Center : Dr. Bala Subramaniam, professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, 785-330-4360, bsubramaniam@ku.edu

CASA Center, Dr. David McLaughlin, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 413-545-2725, Mclaughlin@ecs.umass.edu

BMES Center: Dr. Mark Humayun, surgeon and professor of Ophthalmology and Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, Doheny Eye Institute, Suite 3600, 1450 San Pablo Street, Los Angeles, Calif., 90033

Media Contacts:
National Science Foundation: Josh Chamot, 703-292-7730, jchamot@nsf.gov

EUV Center: Brad Bohlander, Colorado State University, Brad.Bohlander@ColoState.EDU;
Lana Hoff, Engineering Communications, 970-491-6604, lhoff@engr.colostate.edu

CEBC Center: Jill Hummels, University of Kansas School of Engineering, 785-864-2934, jhummels@ku.edu

CASA Center: Brenda Philips, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 413-577-2213, bphilips@ecs.umass.edu; Debra Levy Martinelli, University of Oklahoma, 405-325-1701, drlevy@ou.edu

BMES Center: Susan Heitman, 213-740-7896, sheitman@usc.edu

Websites:
EUV ERC Website: http://euverc.colostate.edu
CEBC Website: http://www.ku.edu/~cebc/
CASA Website : http://www.casa.umass.edu

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5.3 billion. National Science Foundation funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. The National Science Foundation also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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