The goal of the Generation Three (Gen-3) Engineering Research Centers (ERC) Program is to create a culture in engineering research and education that integrates discovery with technological innovation to advancetechnology and produce graduates who will be creative U.S. innovators in a globally competitive economy. These ERCs are at the forefront as the USA competes in the 21st century global economy where R&D resources and engineering talent are internationally distributed. Recognizing that optimizing efficiency and product quality are no longer sufficient for U.S. industry to remain competitive, these ERCs integrate transformational academic engineering research and education to stimulate increased U.S. innovation in a global context.
The ERC is motivated by an engineered systems vision and structured by a strategic plan that defines a research program to address barriers in the way of realizing the vision. The strategic research plan structures an integrated program of fundamental and applied research that feeds into proof-of-concept enabling and systems technology test beds.
The ERC education program is comprised of a university program and a pre-college program. The university education mission of an ERC is to prepare students for effective practice in industry and to enhance their capacity for creative and innovative leadership throughout their careers. The pre-college education mission rests on long-term partnerships with K-12 institutions to expose teachers to engineering and deliver engineering concepts and experiences to their classrooms to stimulate student interest in engineering careers. The interface of the research and the educational culture of the ERC enriches the participating universities through the transfer of ERC-generated knowledge into engineering curricula.
Surrounding this research and education culture is the ERC's innovation ecosystem, which is important for translating center advancements into actual adoption or use for U.S. competitive advantage. The innovation ecosystem of Gen-3 ERCs is achieved through a symbiotic relationship between the center researchers, industrial and practitioner members, and partner organizations devoted to stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation.
The ERC research and education culture, together with its innovation ecosystem, are developed by a team of faculty, students of all levels, and staff who share the ERC's vision. They come from different disciplines and perspectives on research, education, and technological innovation, and they include the rich perspectives offered by diversity in gender, race, ethnicity, and other demographics.
In essence, this solicitation requires that effort be devoted to creating, developing, and enhancing capacities in ERCs to support the spectrum from transformational fundamental research to technological innovation and create pathways to success in engineering careers for diverse cadres of students from middle school to graduation with degrees in engineering.
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