The ERC Program
The National Science Foundation-sponsored Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) are a group of interdisciplinary centers located at universities all across the United States, each in close partnership with industry. Each ERC provides an environment in which academe and industry can collaborate in pursuing strategic advances in complex engineered systems and systems-level technologies that have the potential to spawn whole new industries or to radically transform the product lines, processing technologies, or service delivery methodologies of current industries. Activity within ERCs lies at the interface between the discovery-driven culture of science and the innovation-driven culture of engineering. The centers provide the intellectual foundation for industry to collaborate with faculty and students on resolving generic, long-range challenges, producing the knowledge base needed for steady advances in technology and their speedy transition to the marketplace.
ERC faculty, students and industry partners integrate discovery and learning in an interdisciplinary environment that reflects the complexities and realities of real-world technology. ERCs expose prospective students (both graduate and undergraduate) to industrial views in order to build competence in engineering practice and to produce engineering graduates with the depth and breadth of education needed for success in technological innovation and for effective leadership of interdisciplinary teams throughout their careers. ERC innovations in research and education are expected to impact curricula at all levels, from precollege to life-long learning, and to be disseminated to and beyond their academic and industry partners.
ERCs fulfill NSF's strategic goal to increase the diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce by including all members of society, regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, in all aspects of the centers' activities. Because ERCs play critical roles in academe by integrating research, education, diversity, outreach, and industrial collaboration, NSF views ERCs as change agents for academic engineering programs and the engineering community at large.