Maryland Joins NSF-funded Effort to Help Set Nation's Direction for Engineering

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering today launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), a national collaborative designed to help determine future engineering research priorities to meet the country’s emerging needs. The University of Maryland (UMD) is a founding ERVA partner through the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Darryll J. Pines, UMD president and immediate past dean of UMD’s A. James Clark School of Engineering, serves on the distinguished, 10-member ERVA advisory board.

“The Engineering Research Visioning Alliance is about charting an engineering course for our country: Identifying new directions for engineering research; informing policy priorities; and creating solutions to the grand challenges we face, from designing less expensive and more effective medicines to building more durable roads, tunnels, and bridges for all communities,” said Robert Briber, interim dean of the Clark School. “From batteries to robots, we’re doing trendsetting work at Maryland engineering and are honored to help inform this national conversation.”

Engineering research profoundly impacts our daily lives in a variety of areas, from improved vaccine distribution to better smartphone cameras to the recent Mars rover landing. ERVA brings the engineering community together to envision high-impact solutions to society’s grand challenges and to spark new research directions for a more secure and sustainable world.

ERVA was created to provide the engineering community with a process for identifying bold and societally impactful engineering research directions that will place the U.S. in a leading position to realize a better future for all. It is an engaged, inclusive, multilayered partnership, providing a diverse array of voices with the opportunity to impact national research priorities.

“Engineering has the power to transform people’s lives, especially when it brings to bear a diversity of knowledge, perspectives, and experience to solve important problems,” says NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Dawn Tilbury. “With NSF’s support, the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance will enable the engineering community to mobilize and make a difference in our country’s future.”

Funded with a five-year, $8 million award from the NSF, the initiative convenes, catalyzes, and enables the engineering community to identify nascent opportunities and priorities for engineering-led innovative, high-impact, cross-domain, fundamental research that addresses national, global, and societal needs.

“When engineers come together behind a big challenge, we create amazing discoveries and innovations that can lead to exciting new fields,” says Tilbury. “Through ERVA, NSF wants the engineering community to come together to find ideas that will unite us, develop roadmaps for cutting-edge research agendas, and lead to game-changing impacts on our world.”

ERVA builds connectivity among government, academic, industry, community, professional society, and public sector stakeholders, empowering the engineering research community to speak with a unified voice.

“ERVA is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of something truly transformative,” notes Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, ERVA’s principal investigator (PI) and senior associate vice president for research-corporate and government partnerships at The Ohio State University, a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA). “It enables the engineering community to unify under the common theme of working together to address society’s greatest challenges.”

Read ERVA’s announcement here.

About ERVA

The Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA) is a neutral convener that helps define future engineering research directions. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering, ERVA is a diverse, inclusive and engaged partnership that enables an array of voices to impact national research priorities. The five-year initiative convenes, catalyzes and enables the engineering community to identify nascent opportunities and priorities for engineering-led innovative, high-impact, cross-domain research that addresses national, global and societal needs. Learn more at

About the Clark School

The A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland serves as the catalyst for high-quality research, innovation, and learning, delivering on a promise that all graduates will leave ready to impact the Grand Challenges of the 21st century. The Clark School is dedicated to leading and transforming the engineering discipline and profession, to accelerating entrepreneurship, and to transforming research and learning activities into new innovations that benefit millions.

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Published April 7, 2021