NAE Awards The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants for Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research


Fri, March 15, 2024

Washington, DC, March 15, 2024 —

Two Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants of $30,000 each have been awarded to attendees of The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering 2023 Symposium, a program of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The grants provide seed funding for participants at U.S.-based institutions to enable further pursuit of important new interdisciplinary research and projects stimulated by the U.S. FOE symposia.

“This year’s Grainger Grant recipients are making extraordinary engineering contributions, from utilizing machine learning for efficient development of new materials to improving grid resiliency using a fleet of electric buses,” said NAE President John Anderson. “Their creativity and innovation demonstrate the key role engineers play in technological advancement and creating a sustainable future.”

Yanjie Fu (Arizona State University) and Alix Schmidt (Dow) have received a Grainger Grant for their project titled “Deep generative feature transformation for materials informatics: A data-centric AI perspective.” The efficient development of new materials necessitates accurate modeling of the intricate relationships between the chemical compositions of materials and their downstream performance. This project will utilize machine learning to identify the optimal material property and composition feature set that strikes a balance between reducing feature sizes and discovering new indicators for material performance prediction. In the spirit of ChatGPT, which demonstrates that complex human language knowledge can be embedded into a large language model to prompt or generate conversation, this project proposes that complex and mechanism-unknown material property knowledge can be embedded into learned representation to generate targeted new formulations.

The second Grainger Grant has been awarded to Qadeer Ahmed (Ohio State University) and Lauren Alger (STV Inc.) for their project titled “Enhancing micro-grid resiliency using a fleet of electric buses.” Transit and school buses are the largest form of mass transit in the United States. Adopting electric buses offers a variety of benefits over diesel buses, such as reduced or no tailpipe emissions, regenerative braking, and microgrid support. This project will generate recommendations on how electric bus fleets need to operate and interact with microgrids, thereby enhancing the resilience of both.

The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering is an NAE program that brings together highly accomplished early-career engineers from industry, academia, and government to discuss pioneering technical work and leading-edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors.

“The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering program facilitates interactions and exchange of techniques and approaches across fields and encourages networking among the next generation of engineering leaders,” Anderson noted. “Our nation’s emerging engineering leaders benefit greatly through participation in Frontiers of Engineering, and we are grateful to The Grainger Foundation for ensuring that future generations will have continued access to this outstanding program.”

The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger Inc.

Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation by providing independent advice on matters involving engineering and technology, and by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and public appreciation of engineering.

Sabrina  Steinberg
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Communications/Media Associate
National Academy of Engineering
Janet  Hunziker
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Senior Program Officer
National Academy of Engineering