The “ENG Portfolio" Details
NSF ENG has also taken a different role in establishing long-term partnerships to create a vision for future directions in emerging areas. One example is the leadership role ENG took in advancing nanotechnologies through sustained efforts in NNUN, Partnerships in Nanotechnologies, NSE, and NNIN. The effectiveness of the engineering leadership in pulling together a broad coalition of agencies, national labs and cross-directorate support, starting in the mid-90s is demonstrated by the growth of the engineering research and educational activities in the global nano-technology arena.
FUTURETRUCK 2003 – A DOE / NSF / Automotive Industry (FORD & GM) partnership sponsoring the student team competition for reducing environmental impact while maintaining performance of vehicles.
nternal partnerships within NSF have become a fact of life for the Engineering Directorate. Examples of these include current activities in ITR, Biocomplexity, and with EHR that focus on multi-disciplinary research and curricular development at levels extending well beyond the engineering domain. These collaborations can occur from either a top-down directive or a bottom-up teaming of program officers with a common vision. Each of the activities that represent an NSF-wide priority area appears to have a different management scheme. In all cases, coordination, collaboration, and communication are key issues for ENG when resources have been committed to a multi-year, NSF-wide solicitation. The success of these partnerships is often dependent upon the management plan developed to support the long-term goals of the various divisions and directorates. The potential of bringing communities of researchers together to address highly complex systems research can be of significant value to the desired progression from scientific discovery through to the realization of these ideas.
Vertically-aligned partnerships provide a framework for a NSF ENG to enhance activities that include both education and research, with direct collaboration with professional societies or industry, aimed at integrating and advancing multi-disciplinary thrusts in emerging and important areas. The Engineering Research Centers program, the NEES infrastructure program, and the BEES program between engineering and EHR provide examples where engineering has establish the necessary support for comprehensive programs that incorporate goals to educate the engineering workforce while advancing knowledge through sustained research activities with industrial or professional society input.
The challenges and potential failures that can occur in any of the different types of partnerships can include:
In addition, there is a constant tension to maintain the appropriate balance between core programmatic research and the priority areas or directed solicitations. The management of resources for the directorate needs to be aligned with the vision for ENG that comes forward from the STG.
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