The USNational Science Foundation
(NSF) recently awarded $75.3 million for five new Engineering Research Centres (ERCs) that will develop cross-disciplinary research programmes. They aim to advance technologies that address major societal problems and provide the basis for new industries.
NSF supports ERCs for a maximum of 10 years while the centres develop a strong network of collaborations with industry leaders and a base of financial support that can sustain the centre after leaving the NSF program.
Including the new awards, NSF supports 22 Engineering Research Centres in the fields of bioengineering; earthquake engineering; design, manufacturing and processing systems; microelectronic and optical systems and information technology.
Of the new centres, the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Centre (SynBERC) will fabricate new biological components and use them in integrated, miniature devices and systems.
The Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Centre (QoLT) will develop technology that will allow people with physical and mental restrictions to live more independent and productive lives.
The Engineering Research Centre for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CEFP) will develop compact, low cost, fluid-powered devices that use pressurised liquids or gases to transmit power.
Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) researchers will use mid-infrared quantum cascade lasers as the backbone for a wide range of air-monitoring sensors.
Finally, the Engineering Research Centre for Structured Organic Composites (C-SOC) will study the nature of finely ground granular materials and other substances used in "composite organic" products.