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.
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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
404-894-6016
victor.rogers@vpea.gatech.edu.
* 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
808-956-6106
manke@hawaii.edu.
* 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
410-516-7907
prs@jhu.edu.
* 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
864-656-1050
Jane.Jacobi@ces.clemson.edu.
* 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.
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Program Contact: Lynn Nystrom at 540-231-4371 or tansy@vt.edu.
Program contact: Lynn Preston at 703-306-1379 or lpreston@nsf.gov
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National Science Foundation

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