In this 21-month project, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Materials and Manufacturing Board will develop a vision and high-level, strategic recommendations for the future of National Science Foundation (NSF)–supported center-scale, multidisciplinary engineering research. The study will be forward-looking — focusing on the forces that are likely to shape engineering research, education, and technological innovation in the future, the associated challenges and opportunities. It will consider and evaluate the most promising models and approaches for multidisciplinary engineering research that can successfully address these challenges and opportunities. NSF's Engineering Research Centers will be used as prominent examples or cases in the study, but the intent is not to evaluate them. The study will also be informed by other models of large-scale, multidisciplinary engineering research in the United States and other parts of the world.
The committee overseeing the project will issue a rapporteur-authored summary of a symposium and a final consensus report containing findings and recommendations. The consensus report may propose visions for center-scale research in engineering over the next 10-20 years and address issues such as new models for innovation that connect center research to real-world impacts; the appropriate role and emerging models for such centers in education and broadening participation; and how to continuously enable the breakthrough engineering research by attracting the most innovative and diverse talent in the field.
The project aims to deliver a pre-publication version of the report in January 2017 and a final version in April 2017.