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Gen-4 Engineering Research Centers: Convergent Research and Innovation through Inclusive Partnerships and Workforce Development

The ERC program supports convergent research (CR) that will lead to strong societal impact. Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the research project, including engineering workforce development (EWD) at all participant stages, diversity and a culture of inclusion (DCI) where all participants gain mutual benefit, and value creation within an innovation ecosystem (IE) that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC. The logical reasoning that links the proposed activities to the identified goals for each ERC should be clear.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program to bring technology-based industry and universities together in an effort to strengthen the competitive position of American industry in the global marketplace. These partnerships established cross-disciplinary centers focused on advancing fundamental engineering knowledge and engineered systems technology while exposing students to the integrative aspects of engineered systems and industrial practice. As a result, ERCs have produced a wide range of new fundamental knowledge, engineered systems and other technologies aimed at spawning whole new fields or industries or radically transforming the product lines, processes, and practices of current industries. At the same time, they have produced a new generation of engineering graduates who are highly innovative, diverse, globally engaged, and effective as technology leaders in academia and industry.

The newest iteration of the ERC program reflects the recommendations from A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research (a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study) as well as other sources. The current program continues to focus on advancing an engineered system through inclusive cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships, while placing greater emphasis on research with high-risk/high-payoff ideas that lead to societal impact through convergent approaches, engaging stakeholder communities, and using team science concepts for their team formation.

Funding level is up to $5.2M/year for 5 years with option for renewal based on performance and review of a renewal proposal. Cost sharing is required, with the percentage determined according to NSF's cost sharing formula.

Timeline

  • September 2, 2022: Letters of Intent due to NSF (required)
  • October 3, 2022: Preliminary Proposals due to NSF (required)
  • May 8, 2023: Full Proposals due to NSF (by invitation only)

Eligibility

  • The Lead PI must be a faculty member at the lead university. 
  • Non-lead PIs (the co-PIs listed on the Cover Sheet) may be from institutions other than the lead university.
  • The Lead PI and ERC Director are not required to be the same person, but both must be affiliated with the lead institution.
  • If any institution has two active ERC awards, it cannot submit an ERC preliminary proposal as a lead institutions.
  • No other restrictions or limits on the number of preliminary proposals submitted by a lead institution.

Resources

Program Information

Stanford Support for Proposals

The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) provides proposal development support, including writing, editing and project management for collaborative, complex, and strategic proposals. Please contact Kim Baeten for more information.

RDO supports NSF ERC proposals in collaboration with:

Created: 05.05.22
Updated: 08.12.22