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Engineering Research Centers
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Important Notice to Proposers
A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG), NSF 13-1, was issued on October 4, 2012 and is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after January 14, 2013. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 13-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.
Please be aware that significant changes have been made to the PAPPG to implement revised merit review criteria based on the National Science Board (NSB) report, National Science Foundation's Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions. While the two merit review criteria remain unchanged (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts), guidance has been provided to clarify and improve the function of the criteria. Changes will affect the project summary and project description sections of proposals. Annual and final reports also will be affected.
The goal of the Generation Three (Gen-3) Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program is to create a culture in engineering research and education that integrates discovery with technological innovation to advance technology and produce graduates who will be creative U.S. innovators in a globally competitive economy. These ERCs are at the forefront as the U.S. competes in the 21st century global economy where R&D resources and engineering talent are internationally distributed. Recognizing that optimizing efficiency and product quality are no longer sufficient for U.S. industry to remain competitive, these ERCs integrate transformational academic engineering research and education to stimulate increased U.S. innovation in a global context.
The ERC is motivated by an engineered systems vision and structured by a strategic plan that defines a research program to address barriers in the way of realizing the vision. The strategic research plan structures an integrated program of fundamental and applied research that feeds into proof-of-concept enabling and systems technology test beds.
The ERC education program is comprised of a university program and a pre-college program. The university education mission of an ERC is to prepare students for effective practice in industry and to enhance their capacity for creative and innovative leadership throughout their careers. The pre-college education mission rests on long-term partnerships with K-12 institutions to expose teachers to engineering and deliver engineering concepts and experiences to their classrooms to stimulate student interest in engineering careers. The interface of the research and the educational culture of the ERC enriches the participating universities through the transfer of ERC-generated knowledge into engineering curricula.
Surrounding this research and education culture is the ERC's innovation ecosystem, which is important for translating center advancements into actual adoption or use for U.S. competitive advantage. The innovation ecosystem of Gen-3 ERCs is achieved through a symbiotic relationship between the center researchers, industrial and practitioner members, and partner organizations devoted to stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation.
The ERC research and education culture, together with its innovation ecosystem, are developed by a team of faculty, students of all levels, and staff who share the ERC's vision. They come from different disciplines and perspectives on research, education, and technological innovation, and they include the rich perspectives offered by diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, and other demographics.
In essence, this solicitation requires that effort be devoted to creating, developing, and enhancing capacities in ERCs to support the spectrum from transformational fundamental research to technological innovation and create pathways to success in engineering careers for diverse cadres of students from middle school to graduation with degrees in engineering.
Proposals are solicited in two tracks: (1) Open Topic ERCs, where the PI's are free to structure the engineered systems vision and research program without restrictions on the research content and (2) Nanosystems ERCs (NERCs), where the PIs are free to structure the engineered systems vision but the research program must include a substantial body of nanoscale fundamental research.
For information on individual ERCs and their achievements, go to ERC-assoc.org.