NSF Provide Funding to Establish The Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Composites

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded $75.3 million for five new Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) that will develop cross-disciplinary research programs to advance technologies that address major societal problems and provide the basis for new industries.

For more than two decades, the ERC program has fostered interdisciplinary research and education collaborations, in close partnership with industry, based on the realities of technological innovation and the development of new products and services. Scientists and engineers from a variety of disciplines collaborate on broad-based high-risk engineering research, developing fundamental engineering knowledge and test beds for important emerging technologies.

"These centers will build on a well-developed understanding laid down by previous ERC generations about how to foster a collaborative, interdisciplinary culture in partnership with industry and other practitioners," says NSF Deputy Division Director for Centers Lynn Preston. "Through these relationships, the centers provide rich educational and research environments for preparing new generations of engineering leaders."

NSF supports ERCs for a maximum of 10 years while the centers develop a strong network of collaborations with industry leaders and a base of financial support that can sustain the center after "graduation" from the NSF program.

Including the new awards, NSF supports 22 Engineering Research Centers in the fields of bioengineering; earthquake engineering; design, manufacturing and processing systems; microelectronic and optical systems and information technology.

One of these Centers is the Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Composites (C-SOC).

C-SOC will study the nature of finely ground granular materials and other substances that form the core of drug tablets, processed foods, agricultural chemicals and other "composite organic" products. In addition to improving the quality and consistency of such materials, the center will develop more consistent and cost-effective manufacturing techniques than methods based largely on trial and error.

C-SOC is based at Rutgers University in partnership with the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Purdue University and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Outreach partners include the City University of New York (CUNY) AGEP; the Midwest Crossroads AGEP; the University of Puerto Rico AGEP; and the Indiana, Puerto Rico, and CUNY/NYC LSAMPs. Pre-college outreach programs include high schools near the partner universities in New Jersey, Indiana, and Puerto Rico and a vocational high school in Puerto Rico.

Industry partners include 28 companies that are providing a total of $2.5 million in research funding in the first year. They include pharmaceutical and food manufacturers along with suppliers of manufacturing and analytical equipment.

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