Engineering Research Centers

The NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program supports convergent research, education, and technology translation at U.S. universities that will lead to strong societal impacts.

Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the research project, including engineering workforce development at all participant stages, a culture of diversity and inclusion where all participants gain mutual benefit, and value creation within an innovation ecosystem that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC.

Since the program's start in 1985, NSF has funded 73 ERCs throughout the United States. NSF supports each center for up to 10 years. This investment has led to many successes:

  • more than 200 spinoff companies,
  • more than 850 patents,
  • more than 13,500 total bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees to ERC students, and
  • numerous research outcomes enabling new technologies

Over the years, the ERC program has adapted to meet the nation's future workforce and technological needs. In late fiscal year (FY) 2020, NSF will launch the 4th generation of centers, known as Gen-4 ERCs.

Funding opportunities

NSF has funding opportunities for prospective and current centers:

Current ERCs

In FY 2020 NSF supports 14 ERCs in advanced manufacturing, energy and environment, health and infrastructure.

Acronym Center
FY 2012 1160483 ASSIST Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies
North Carolina State University in partnership with Florida International University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Virginia
ASSIST harnesses nanotechnology to improve global health by enabling correlation between personal health and personal environment and by empowering patients and doctors to manage wellness and improve quality of life.
FY 2015 1448501 CBBG Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics
Arizona State University in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, New Mexico State University, and the University of California, Davis
CBBG employs or mimics natural biological processes and materials to engineer the ground in ways that reduce infrastructure development lifecycle costs and impacts while mitigating natural hazards and environmental degradation.
FY 2017 1648035 CMaT Center for Cell Manufacturing Technologies
Georgia Institute of Technology in partnership with the University of Georgia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Puerto Rico
CMaT's vision is to enable robust, scalable, low-cost biomanufacturing of high-quality therapeutic cells to bring affordable, curative therapies against incurable chronic diseases to everyone.
FY 2017 1647837 CELL-MET Center for Cellular Metamaterials
Boston University in partnership with Florida International University and the University of Michigan
CELL-MET aims to transform cardiovascular care by combining breakthroughs in nanotechnology and manufacturing with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, while also developing areas of expertise in education, diversity, administration, and outreach.
FY 2017 1647722 CISTAR Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources
Purdue University in partnership with Northwestern University, the University of New Mexico, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas at Austin
CISTAR's vision is to create a transformative engineered system to convert light hydrocarbons from shale resources to chemicals and transportation fuels in smaller, modular, local, and highly networked processing plants.
FY 2012 1160494 NASCENT Center for Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Energy Technologies
University of Texas at Austin in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Houston, and the University of New Mexico
NASCENT is creating high throughput, reliable, and versatile nanomanufacturing systems that will revolutionize future-generation mobile computing and energy devices.
FY 2015 1449500 NEWT Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment Systems
Rice University in partnership with Arizona State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and Yale University
NEWT develops high-performance and easy-to-deploy water treatment systems that will broaden access to clean drinking water from a variety of unconventional sources and enable industrial wastewater reuse at off-grid locations.
FY 2011 1028725 CNT
Center for Neurotechnology
University of Washington in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and San Diego State University
The CNT seeks to identify the engineering principles of neural movement control and sensory processing to enable a new generation of robust, adaptive, closed loop, sensorimotor devices that interact with human nervous systems.
FY 2015 1449548 POETS Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in partnership with Howard University, Stanford University, and the University of Arkansas
POETS is improving the electric power density available in tightly constrained mobile environments by integrating novel 3-D cooling circuitry, power converters, and algorithms for smart power management.
FY 2017 1648451 PATHS-UP Center for Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations
Texas A&M University in partnership with Florida International University, Rice University, and the University of California, Los Angeles
PATHS-UP is changing the paradigm for the health of underserved populations by developing revolutionary, cost-effective technologies and systems at the point-of-care.
FY 2011

(co-funded by Department of Energy)

QESST Center for Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technologies
Arizona State University in partnership with the California Institute of Technology, Georgia Tech, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Delaware, the University of Houston, and the University of New Mexico
QESST seeks to transform the existing electricity generation system, making it sustainable, ubiquitous, and multifunctional, by developing photovoltaic and quantum energy converters, which fundamentally alter how energy is used.
FY 2011 1028968 ReNUWIt Center for Re-Inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure
Stanford University in partnership with the Colorado School of Mines, New Mexico State University, and the University of California, Berkeley
ReNUWIt advances new strategies for urban water systems, enabled by technological advances and informed by a deeper understanding of institutional frameworks, to achieve more sustainable solutions to urban water challenges.
FY 2012 1160504 TANMS Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems
University of California, Los Angeles in partnership with California State University, Northridge; Cornell University; Northeastern University; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Texas at Dallas
TANMS works to engineer a revolution in miniature electromagnetic electronics through development of a new class of nanoscale multiferroic materials.
FY 2011 1041877
(co-funded by Department of Energy)
CURENT Center for Ultra-wide-area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks
University of Tennessee-Knoxville in partnership with Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Tuskegee University
CURENT is developing a nation-wide transmission grid that is fully monitored and dynamically controlled for high efficiency, high reliability, low cost, better accommodation of renewable sources, full utilization of storage, and responsive load.