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Engineering Research Visioning Alliance marks first year milestones

ERVA engages over 800 champions and hosts two visioning events in initial NSF award year

The Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA) concluded its inaugural year with the achievement of a number of major milestones, enabled through strong support from its funding partner, the National Science Foundation Engineering Directorate, and through active participation from stakeholders across the engineering research ecosystem.

“We are grateful to the many individuals who offered leadership, guidance, and input in our visioning activities,” said Anthony Boccanfuso, ERVA co-principal investigator and president and CEO of UIDP. “ERVA was designed to bring together people who have different perspectives around the role of engineering in solving challenges that we face in the United States. It brings together research practitioners from across different disciplines to talk about not where engineering science is today, but where it is going so we can consider where research investments made now can have the most impact downstream. ERVA is built to provide greater illumination on where the research puck is going, not where it is today.”

With a keen focus on enabling visioning, ERVA’s core function, the initiative hit the ground running to assemble an action-oriented team. ERVA draws from its three founding partners, the Big Ten Academic Alliance, EPSCoR/IDeA Foundation, and UIDP, for its Principal Investigator team and to build a network of networks for volunteer leadership and visioning. The ERVA Advisory Board, Standing Council, Affiliate Partner organizations, as well as working groups for Government Engagement, Communications, and Research Intelligence, were engaged promptly to enable bold,  inclusive visioning on engineering research themes with an eye toward catalyzing innovative, high-impact research that benefits society. For each of the two visioning events, ERVA convened bespoke Thematic Task Forces—teams of interdisciplinary domain experts rapidly assembled to scope and frame topics selected for visioning events.

Key milestones from ERVA’s first year include: 

  • Nearly 500 respondents to ERVA’s first community survey, a crowdsourcing mechanism that informed our first visioning event theme;
  • Execution of our inaugural visioning event, The Role of Engineering in Addressing Climate Change, within 8 months of launch, and our second,  Leveraging Biology to Power Engineering Impact, within the first year;
  • 96 outstanding experts engaged in service across 7 volunteer groups;
  • 825+ ERVA Champions engaged in our work;
  • 20 Affiliate Partner organizations expanding ERVA’s network of networks; and
  • 7 visioning event co-host organizations: Penn Engineering, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, University of Utah College of Engineering, University of Delaware, Science Center, Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, and the Waters Corporation.

ERVA told its story through 18 presentations and including five listening sessions, collecting input from diverse perspectives for future research directions to explore. Positive response from visioning response participants is a strong indicator that the opportunity to think boldly, collaborate creatively, and advance ideas for future engineering research is valued by researchers and technology experts across industry, academic, and government sectors.

With the support of an array of volunteer leaders, partners, and champions, ERVA is well positioned to advance its mission over the next year to identify and develop bold and transformative new engineering research directions and to catalyze the engineering community's pursuit of innovative, high-impact research that benefits society.

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