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GOALI: Promoting University-Industry Partnerships

December 1997

A new scheduling solution reduces bottlenecks in the production of computer chips, setting a new manufacturing standard for the semiconductor industry. A research team, led by P.R. Kumar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked with scientists at SEMATECH and IBM to develop the new algorithm, which speeds the manufacture of computer chips by 10 percent. Kumar's algorithm moves the chips through a 100-step production process much more efficiently than was ever possible before.

Research into the dynamics of tiny bubbles and particles has changed the design of hydrocarbon processing, enabling refiners to transform previously unusable heavy oils into gasoline, chemical products, and coal that provides superior combustion. Scientists at Ohio University and a network of four oil companies are investigating gas-liquid-solid fluidized systems in extreme operating conditions.

These are only two of the many innovations resulting from the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI), an NSF cross-directorate program that connects universities and industry for their mutual benefit.

"In the long term," says NSF GOALI coordinator, Mike Roco, "this research will create new technologies for broader and more efficient use of various resources." Roco is also Program Director for the Engineering Directorate's Fluid, Particulate and Hydraulic Systems Program.

Launched in 1993 with two experimental awards, the Directorate for Engineering began awarding GOALI grants in 1994, funding 40 proposals for a total of $4 million. The next year, the initiative grew to include the Directorates for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). In 1995, the three directorates awarded $12 million for 90 new projects. Bob Grafton, Program Director of CISE Design Automation, reviewed several GOALI proposals for that directorate. "I would like to see more people take advantage of the program," he says. "GOALI gives people a way to test their ideas in real-world situations."

The initiative has been so successful that it was expanded in 1996 to include all NSF directorates. Awards that year totaled $21 million. GOALI-oriented research now involves more than 1,200 scientists and engineers in universities and businesses. Their research will translate into improved productivity and enhanced competitiveness. Roco is already fielding inquiries from other government agencies and industry groups interested in adapting the GOALI model. He also has advised groups in Mexico and Brazil about implementing the program in their countries.

"GOALI enhances research. The project supports academics with feedback and input from industry, gives industry access to top quality science, and equips students with experience that makes them more readily employable," says Roco. "The program has unlocked a real resource in academic and industrial research. GOALI promotes basic research that can provide enormous economic benefits for the country."

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