2012 Student Leadership Council Retreat

2012 Student Leadership Council Retreat

Lynn Preston
Leader of the ERC Program


ERCs – Joining Discovery to Innovation for 27 Years

ERC Program Goals

  • Create a culture to join scientific discovery to technological innovation through transformational engineered systems research and education
  • Build partnerships with industry to strengthen the innovative capacity of the U.S. in a global context
  • Produce diverse engineering graduates who are effective in industry and creative innovators in a global economy


Core ERC Key Features

  • Guiding strategic vision for transforming engineered systems and the engineering workforce
  • Strategic plans to realize the vision
  • Cross-disciplinary research program – from fundamental research to proof-of-concept systems testbeds
  • Education program to:
    • bring engineering concepts to the pre-college classroom to attract students to engineering careers
    • produce creative and innovative engineers who understand industrial practice and become the next-generation innovators
  • Innovation Ecosystems:
    • Rest on partnerships with members from industry/user organizations
    • Accelerate technology transfer, translational research and innovation
  • Infrastructure
    • Leadership, cross-disciplinary and diverse team, management, university commitment, and facilities


ERCs Accelerate Innovation

  • Knowledge/technology transfer through member firms
  • ERC graduates take ERC technology to industry through internships and employment
  • Translational research through member firms’ support of sponsored projects
  • ERC Translational Research Fund supports small firms in partnership with ERCs, when member firms fail to license ERCs IP
  • I-Corp – award to develop business plan and get entrepreneurship training – faculty, student entrepreneurs and business mentors (non-ERC solicitation on the web)


How ERCs Prepare Graduates to be Leaders

  • Leading and working in cross-disciplinary teams
  • Organizational leadership through SLCs
  • Project team management
  • Strategic planning
  • Advancing technology and building testbeds
  • Improved communication skills - precollege outreach, poster sessions, and the Perfect Pitch Contest
  • Internships in industry and close contact with potential employers through IAB
  • Collaboration with small start-up firms
  • Research in foreign laboratories


Role of an ERC’s Student Leadership Council

  • Organize ERC student activities to:
    • Integrate research across projects and into testbeds
    • Share knowledge (Seminars and outside speakers)
    • Achieve strong and active collaboration with ERC industrial/practitioners members
    • Promote entrepreneurial efforts for high risk technology beyond the vision of current industry
    • Engage ERC students to participate in pre-college student outreach and teach pre-college teachers about engineering
    • Sponsor social activities to build a cohesive ERC team
  • Manage SWOT analysis process to determine how well the ERC is achieving its goals from a student perspective - organizational leadership
  • Work with Director and others on ERC Leadership Team to convey the SLC’s SWOT and determine how to deal with weaknesses/threats
  • Meet with NSF site visit teams to present the SLC’s SWOT analysis and progress in addressing weaknesses and threats


SWOT Analysis Process/Format

  • Survey ERC students (define ERC goals in survey)
  • Narrow down responses to major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats
  • Put them in priority order under each category
  • Prepare a few viewgraphs: (one or two for each category, i.e. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
  • Prepare a brief written report with more detail on the bullets for the ERC’s Leadership team
  • Update annually, show progress
  • SLC President should serve as a member of the ERC’s Leadership Team and present SWOT analysis for discussion for organizational improvement
  • SLC should have a budget
  • SLC President presents SWOT findings to the NSF site visit team during the annual/renewal review
    • Summarize the SWOT and actions taken in the past
    • Prepare copies of the SWOT for the SVT members
    • Prepare students to talk openly with the site visit team as partners in improving the ERC



  • Thanks for assuming leadership responsibilities for your ERC’s students
  • Good luck to all in the Perfect Pitch Contest
  • Thanks to the SynBERC ERC for organizing the Retreat


Short Description: 
Presented at 2012 ERC Annual Conference.