NSF To Invest $104 Million In Four New University-Based Engineering Research Centers – Forbes

Four new NSF-funded Engineering Research Centers will develop engineering solutions for problems in … [+] agriculture, manufacturing, health and urban planning.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it will invest $104 million to establish four new Engineering Research Centers. Each of the centers will involve multiple universities as core partners. They will foster the integration of engineering with other disciplines and focus on discoveries and technologies in four key areas: agriculture, manufacturing, health and urban planning.
“For decades, NSF Engineering Research Centers have transformed technologies and fostered innovations in the United States through bold research, collaborative partnerships, and a deep commitment to inclusion and broadening participation,” said NSF Director Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan in the agency’s news release. “The new NSF centers will continue the legacy of impacts that improve lives across the nation.”
The 2022 Engineering Research Centers will receive five years of funding, totaling about $26 million each.
The Research Center for Advancing Sustainable and Distributed Fertilizer Production will attempt to solve the problem of how we feed the growing world population while at the same time protecting and sustaining the environment. It will focus on developing new cost-effective, resilient, and secure ways to produce, capture and recycle decarbonized nitrogen-based fertilizers for crop production.

The Research Center for Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing Moving from Evolution to Revolution will focus on accelerating the creation and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, specifically the use of intelligent, autonomous manufacturing systems that will enable mass customization in local production facilities.

The Research Center for Precision Microbiome Engineering will investigate the microbes that have colonized and adapted to built environments, such as homes and drinking water systems. These microbiomes have a direct influence on many aspects of human health. The center will create microbiome-based diagnostic tools and develop microbiome technology to monitor and operate built environments in order to protect human health.
It will also focus on preventing the spread of infectious agents, promoting the colonization of beneficial microorganisms, and developing strategies for controlling pandemics and antibiotic resistance. The center will have a interdisciplinary emphasis, involving and training engineers, microbiologists, social scientists, ethicists and computational scientists.

The Research Center for Smart Streetscapes aims to develop livable, safe and inclusive communities by focusing on the streetscape –the neighborhood streets, sidewalks, and public spaces where many public and commercial activities take place in urban areas. Taking a new approach to engineering research, this center will bring together several non-academic stakeholders –industry partners, community organizations, municipalities, and K-12 schools– as collaborators.
It will explore five themes: road safety and traffic efficiency, public safety, assistive technologies for people with disabilities, the future of outdoor work, and hyper-local sensing and modeling. It also will have an interdisciplinary emphasis, integrating engineering, data science, social science, and policy to advance the emerging discipline of smart cities.

Across the past five decades, NSF has now funded 79 Engineering Research Centers, integrating engineering with other disciplines and building partnerships between academic, industry and government to address national needs and priorities.

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