More than 100 technical experts deliberate over two days to identify engineering research directions
December 8, 2021 —More than 100 experts from academia, industry, and government sectors convened for a virtual visioning session Tuesday and Wednesday to identify priorities for engineering research that address one of the world’s most vexing challenges: climate change. The event was convened by the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded initiative.
“The ERVA visioning event was focused on collecting broad perspectives across multiple facets of climate research to identify those unexplored areas where additional research could make bold, positive impacts,” said Amy Heintz, technical fellow at Battelle, who also serves on ERVA’s Standing Council and as co-chair of the event's thematic task force. "It was incredible to see so many top engineering minds across academia, industry, and government come together to collaboratively generate and prioritize future research directions."
The theme for this first ERVA visioning event emerged from a survey of nearly 500 members of the engineering research community. Climate change is a high-profile national priority (the White House FY2023 budget calls for immediate action “to avoid the most catastrophic impacts and to seize the opportunities that tackling climate change presents”), and the engineering research is uniquely suited to create high-impact solutions. The ERVA visioning event was structured to spark new research directions and to catalyze research for a more secure and sustainable world.
"There is significant momentum behind research to address climate change solutions, and engineering has a critical role to play," said Bruce Logan, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering and Evan Pugh University Professor in Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University, who also served as co-chair of the event's thematic task force. "This event served to unite the diverse voices of engineering behind critical research directions that hold promise for mitigating emissions of greenhouse gases as well as addressing the complex challenges arising from continued global warming and increased climate disruptions.”
Event participants were identified and invited based on their research and expertise and represent scientists across academic disciplines, geographic location, organization sector and type, gender, race/ethnicity, and career stage. ERVA launched in April 2021 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 truly diverse array of voices with the opportunity to impact national research priorities.
The workshop co-hosts—University of Pennsylvania Engineering, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and the University of Utah College of Engineering—will work with the Thematic Task Force and ERVA’s leadership to distill the workshop proceedings into a March 2022 results report, the first in a series of thematic reports setting priorities for the future of engineering. Stay tuned for ERVA’s inaugural report, which will include high-value findings that will identify less-explored, basic and use-inspired lines of research ripe for the engineering community pursuit.
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 www.ERVAcommunity.org.