The Grainger Foundation Commits $3 Million for NAE Frontiers of Engineering Program


Wed, March 19, 2014

Washington, DC, March 19, 2014 —

The National Academy of Engineering announced today a $3 million commitment from The Grainger Foundation to support NAE's Frontiers of Engineering (FOE). This is the second $3 million commitment from the Foundation in support of this program.

“We are pleased to continue our support for the Frontiers of Engineering symposia, which have a proven track record for establishing critical connections between outstanding young engineers around the world,” said David Grainger, president and director of The Grainger Foundation.

The funding also supports The Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grants, which provide seed funding to U.S.-based FOE participants to pursue projects stimulated by the symposia. Two grants of $30,000 have been awarded today to attendees of the National Academy of Engineering’s 2013 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.

Philip Feng, of Case Western Reserve University, and Tse Nga (Tina) Ng, from Palo Alto Research Center, will receive a Grainger grant for “Integrating Atomically Thin Semiconducting Crystals With Flexible Electronics.” The funds will support exploratory, fundamental research on integrating an extremely thin layer of semiconducting crystals, specifically molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), with state-of-the-art printed electronics on flexible substrates. This research could lead to innovative technologies and methods for integrating materials, as well as reveal new ways to incorporate novel 2-D materials into functional devices.

The second Grainger grant has been awarded to John Owens, of the University of California at Davis, and Tuhin Sahai, from the United Technologies Research Center, for “Parallel Matrix Factorization: Towards GPUs in the Data Center.” This team will explore how to develop computational models that enable decision-making from large amounts of data. An example is making movie recommendations to millions of subscribers based upon their ratings from past viewings. Owens and Sahai will develop their algorithms on an emerging computer processor, the graphics processing unit (GPU), which takes a more parallel approach to solving computational problems.

“Thanks to the generous support of The Grainger Foundation, Frontiers of Engineering symposium participants have the opportunity to join together and take on innovative ideas in the pursuit of ground-breaking research,” said C.D. “Dan” Mote Jr., president of the National Academy of Engineering.

Established in 1995, the Frontiers of Engineering program includes a U.S. symposium each year and a rotating schedule of bilateral meetings of engineers from the U.S. and Germany, Japan, India, China, and the European Union. Attendees of the symposia are under the age of 45 and are selected competitively after being nominated by fellow engineers or organizations. The symposia typically span 2-1/2 days and provide an opportunity for attendees to network and learn about cutting-edge developments in fields other than their own. Approximately 100 engineers are invited to attend each year's U.S. meeting, and 30 from each country attend the bilateral symposia. These meetings provide a window for U.S. engineers to learn about developments at the forefront of technology in the global marketplace.

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.

In addition to The Grainger Foundation, other sponsors of the Frontiers of Engineering symposia include government and corporate entities. For more information about the program, visit

The mission of the National Academy of Engineering is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. NAE celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. To learn more about the Academy, please visit


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