Visioning engineering research

April 7, 2021

NSF launches Engineering Research Visioning Alliance  

America’s economic competitiveness is tied directly to the pace of scientific and technological discovery, which requires sustained, long-term support as well as agility. To help the United States stay at the forefront of research and innovation — and maintain its leadership in the global economy — the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), the first engineering research visioning organization of its kind. The announcement was made April 7, 2021.

MSU Engineering Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies John Verboncoeur serves on the ERVA’s Standing Council. He said MSU is a core member in NSF’s new ERVA, with Big Ten and a diversity of institutions across the nation, including HCBUs and MSIs, also having key partnership roles. 

“The goal of the ERVA is to bring together diverse interdisciplinary experts to peer into the future to envision engineering opportunities to change the world, and to advise the NSF on the research needed to make that vision a reality,” he explained. 

MSU is a core partner in ERVA. Engineering Associate Dean John Verboncoeur is on ERVA's Standing Council.
MSU is a core partner in ERVA. Engineering Associate Dean John Verboncoeur is on ERVA's Standing Council and said "engineering is a tool for transforming the world in which we live."

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 truly 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, Ph.D., 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.”  

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  

Hashtag: #ERVAcommunity

About the National Science Foundation (NSF)

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.