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Out of concern for the state of engineering in the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs) with the goal of improving engineering research and education and helping to keep the United States competitive in global markets. Since the ERC program’s inception in 1985, NSF has funded 67 ERCs across the United States. NSF funds each ERC for up to 10 years, during which time the centers build robust partnerships with industry, universities, and other government entities that can ideally sustain them upon graduation from NSF support.
To ensure that the ERCs continue to be a source of innovation, economic development, and educational excellence, NSF commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene a 1-day symposium in April 2016. This event featured four plenary panel presentations on: the evolving global context for center-based engineering research, trends in undergraduate and graduate engineering education, new directions in university-industry interaction, and emerging best practices in translating university research into innovation. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the symposium.