NSF News

NSF Director Panchanathan meets three Members of Congress at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for project kick-off, announces funding for UT's advanced materials and manufacturing center

U.S. National Science Foundation Director Panchanathan traveled to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for the Tennessee Mobility Showcase on Monday, June 26. He joined Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) for the launch of the Technology Enabled Advanced Mobility (TEAM TN)  project and to spotlight two awards.   

TEAM is one of 44 teams to win the first-ever $1 million NSF Regional Innovation Engines development awards, which will lay the groundwork to be competitive for a full NSF Engines Hub award in the future. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is spearheading the coalition of 90 organizations working together to place Tennessee and the Southeast in the vanguard of vehicle electrification. 

Gathered with Members of Congress, the Tennessee Board of Regents, delegates from member organizations comprising TEAM and faculty and students for the project launch, Panchanathan highlighted the important role partnerships play in achieving scientific breakthroughs and technological progress at speed and scale. "This visit helps to underscore the enormous potential that NSF investments like the NSF Engines and Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers awards have in shaping critical fields like transportation electrification, material design and advanced manufacturing," Panchanathan said. "NSF and its partners are helping communities leverage their local resources and talent to grow self-sustaining innovation ecosystems, to create innovation anywhere, and opportunities everywhere." 

During the showcase, Panchanathan met privately with the three Members of Congress, and participated in panel discussions on the topics of artificial intelligence, workforce development, the NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) program and inclusive entrepreneurship. He met industry leaders, heads of universities and NSF-supported graduate students and lunched with Faculty Early Career Development Program awardees. During a press conference arranged by the university, Panchanathan announced the 2023 class of NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers awards. 

The $162 million NSF investment will support nine new materials research centers around the country. Each center will receive $18 million over the next six years and serve as a hub where academia and industry can collaborate, translating cutting-edge research into technologies and solutions with real-world impacts.  

The director toured the university's Institute for Advanced Materials & Manufacturing, one of this year's awardees. The center is currently developing materials capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures and pressures required for nuclear fusion and hypersonic defense systems. It's also using AI to develop and design new quantum materials and systems for clean energy harvesting.