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N.C. A&T Becomes First Black Institution Named NSF Engineering Research Center

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University will serve as an international leader of engineering research thanks to a prestigious grant awarded by the National Science Foundation.

As a recipient of NSF’s Engineering Research Center (ERC) grant, the Greensboro university will receive $18.5 million over the next five years to develop new technologies that will compliment health care services and advocate for the production of more engineering graduates. North Carolina A&T State is the first historically Black college to lead this type of NSF initiative.

Dr. Jagnnathan Sankar, the university’s Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering who will serve as director of the program, adds that the award marks an important achievement for the university and the community.

The NSF has awarded 49 ERC grants since the program’s inception in 1985. Following North Carolina State and Duke universities, A&T is the third university in North Carolina to receive the ERC honor, according to recent reports. However, the ERC for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials at A&T will focus on three engineered systems: craniofacial and orthopedic applications, cardiovascular devices, and responsive biosensors for implants.

Officials say this research may have a significant impact on craniofacial and orthopedic treatments and may also help children who are born with birth defects, injured veterans, and others who have considerable bone damage.

School officials also note they are in discussions to build a new state-of-the-art building that will house the research center. Construction is slated to begin in upcoming years depending on state funding.

Additionally, the university has launched a new Department of Bioengineering that will work in partnership with the ERC. In collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Cincinnati, the department will offer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in bioengineering.

“The BS program will start accepting students in the fall of ’09, followed by the MS program in fall ’10 and the Ph.D. in fall ’11,” says Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, vice chancellor for research and at A&T. “We will be submitting a request for funds to design and construct a new building for the ERC shortly that will also accommodate our new bioengineering program.”

ERC grants are among the most widely sought after awards offered by the NSF. The research grants are part of a cooperative effort between universities, local industries and the NSF to promote engineering advancement, research and education.

In a recent statement Lynn Preston, a deputy division director at NSF and leader of the Engineering Research Centers Program, said NSF welcomes the addition of North Carolina A&T to help expand its valuable research efforts in the area of regenerative medicine.


“This ERC educational program will significantly impact the diversity of the engineering work force because of its location at A&T and its synergistic partnership with the new A&T department of bioengineering,” Preston said. “We look forward to the pre-college partnerships in this ERC attracting a broadly diverse group of students to engineering and medicine.”

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