Planning Grant: Engineering Research Center for translating and evolving nanoscale assembly for society (TENAS)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Planning Grants for Engineering Research Centers competition was run as a pilot solicitation within the ERC program. Planning grants are not required as part of the full ERC competition, but intended to build capacity among teams to plan for convergent, center-scale engineering research.

This project will explore approaches for the organization of a large engineering center focused on next-generation energy storage and harvesting, advanced structural materials, and improved water filtration membranes. The work is organized around two workshops, the first of which will invite stakeholders from industry, nonprofit organizations and charities, and venture capital firms to establish a value-proposition for the potential Center. This will help establish skills and knowledge that are needed to maximize the efficiency of the Center. Potential team members will then be identified with a focus on individuals with established records in needed areas. A special emphasis will be assigned to individuals whose expertise include multiple areas as potential 'bridge-builders' to create an interconnected expertise network. A second workshop will then focus on team-building exercises that promote education of team capabilities, align goals and expectations, and identify any remaining skill or knowledge gaps. Assessment efforts will focus on addressing the hypothesis that a value-centered strategy and team analytic approaches will promote alignment of team and individual goals and expectations.

Recent breakthroughs in the self-assembly of polymers and composites provide an opportunity to address many of today's grand challenges. Self-assembled materials may lead to next-generation devices for energy storage and harvesting, structural materials with multifunctionality and enhanced mechanical properties, and improved water filtration membranes. A new approach to simultaneously sinter ceramics and organics near 100 C termed cold sintering provides opportunities for new compositions and control of microstructure not previously possible. Translating these scientific advances to products that impact society will require a deep integration of expertise from different disciplines. As such, developing a 'convergent' approach for an Engineering Research Center is crucial to accelerate the implementation of scientific discoveries for the benefit of society. By documenting and assessing efforts, the community will be informed of best practices and project outcomes, and thereby this project will help address the need for research on teams that make up large engineering centers.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/1/1812/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $100,000.00


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