NSF Invests $10 Million In New Engineering Research Centers

November 02, 1998

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has invested $10 million to fund the first year of new Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) in Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia.

The five new centers are pioneering fields such as tissue engineering, computer assisted surgery, computer modeling and visualization of industrial materials, power electronics and marine bioproducts.

"As research expands knowledge, the perceived boundaries between the classic disciplines of engineering and science are beginning to blur," said Eugene Wong, NSF assistant director for engineering. "The Engineering Research Centers not only expand the frontiers of engineering technology, they prepare the next generation of engineering leaders."

Each of the five new centers will receive $2 million in the first year from the NSF, leveraged by support from industry, state governments and partnering universities. NSF will support the centers for five years, after which the support agreement is subject to renewal. The NSF has established 34 ERCs nationwide since 1985.

NSF created the ERC program to foster partnerships between government, industry and universities in research and engineering. The purpose of these partnerships is to strengthen U.S. industry's position in the global economy. ERC partnerships work to solve crucial research issues that could hinder advances in emerging technologies. As the ERCs develop advanced technologies, they also prepare the next generation of engineers with practical experience in leadership and team-building skills.
Attachment: New NSF Engineering Research Centers * Research Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues at Georgia Institute of Technology: Robert M. Nerem, director. Core partner: Emory University School of Medicine.

The Center for the Engineering of Living Tissues will focus on the development of substitutes, both natural and synthetic, for lost or damaged living tissue, a mission driven by overwhelming patient need. Tissue engineering as a viable source for new medical products depends on the ability of the industry to integrate engineering with molecular and cell biology. This integration depends on developing ways to engineer cells that can respond to physical demands and materials that can respond to biological demands. So, the center must not only create a new breed of tissue substitutes, but also a new breed of engineer to conduct research in this unique field.

The center's industrial partners include: Advanced Tissue Sciences, Baxter Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Sulzer CarboMedics, AtheroGenics, and others.

Program Contact: Victor Rogers
* The Marine Bioproducts Engineering Center (MarBEC) at the University of Hawaii: Oskar R. Zaborsky, director. Core partner: University of California-Berkeley.

MarBEC's mission is to lay the groundwork for future use of marine biotechnology products in the chemical, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and life sciences industries. MarBEC will incorporate expertise from many different fields of ocean science and engineering to develop the basis of a working marine biotechnology industry. Priority marine bioproducts include carotenoid pigments, polyunsaturated fatty acids, biocatalysts and UV-absorbing agents.

MarBEC will involve students from chemical engineering, marine biology and ocean science to create a new, interdisciplinary curriculum.

MarBEC seeks to capture the vast biodiversity of the Pacific Ocean and bring about new bioproducts, technologies and business opportunities.

The center's industrial partners include: Eastman Chemical Company, Aquasearch Inc., Aquatic Farms, Cyanotech Corporation, Genencor International, Hawaiian Electric Company, Monsanto Company, Precision Systems Science Co., and others.

Program Contact: James Manke
* Engineering Research Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST) at Johns Hopkins University: Russell Taylor, director. Core partners: Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brigham & Women's Hospital (Boston) and Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore).

CISST will develop a new generation of computer-integrated surgical systems and incorporate advanced imaging, robotics, computer and biomedical engineering technologies to create systems and devices to assist doctors in carrying out precise surgical procedures.

Hospitals affiliated with the program will provide CISST with the clinical environment and practical expertise for refining computer-assisted surgical systems. The goal: to reduce the healthcare cost related to surgery while improving patient care. The center will impact the education of both engineers and medical students.

The center's industrial partners include: AT&T, Circon Corporation, Elekta Instruments, Inc., Hewlett-Packard Company, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Mitsubishi Electronic Information Technology Center America, Inc., MRJ Technology Solutions, and others.

Program Contact: Phil Sneiderman
* Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films (CAEFF) at Clemson University: Dan D. Edie, director. Core partner: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

CAEFF will explore how fiber and film industries, a crucial component of the U.S. manufacturing base, can speed development of new products through innovative computer modeling. The center strives to make it easier for engineers to visualize film and fiber design on a molecular level, and then plan a clear developmental pathway to manufacture the finished product. Chief among the center's goals is to explore new methods of processing that are more economical and environmentally friendly than current methods.

In order to change the current paradigm of computer-based product development and design, CAEFF will create a new model for collaboration between engineers and computational scientists.

The center's industrial partners include: 3M, Amoco Performance Products, Clark-Schwebel, Dow, DuPont, PPG, Shell, Owens Corning, and others.

Program Contact: Jane E. Jacobi
* Center for Power Electronics Systems (C-PES) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute: Fred C. Lee, director. Core partners: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the North Carolina A&T State University, and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

Power electronics is the engineering discipline that deals with converting electrical power to another form of energy, such as when electricity powers a motor to move a car. The discipline is important to research in energy efficiency, pollution reduction, energy storage and transmission. C-PES plans to integrate components of power electronics-devices, circuits, controls, sensors and actuators-into modular systems customizable for industrial applications. C-PES will use a modular approach to meet modern industry's increasing demand for precision, reliability and versatility in power electronics, while decreasing costs and energy consumption. The center will have joint educational components and will contribute to the development of a new Ph.D. program at NCA&T.

The center's industrial partners include: Ford Research Laboratory, GM Advanced Technology Vehicles, National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Inc., Intel Corporation, Motorola, Inc., and others.
Program Contact: Lynn Nystrom at 540-231-4371 or tansy@vt.edu.
Program contact: Lynn Preston at 703-306-1379 or lpreston@nsf.gov

National Science Foundation

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.