The National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers (STCs) Program, of which the CRPC is one of 11 original members, was assessed last year by an outside panel and found to be producing research of high scientific quality that would not have been possible without a center structure and presence. The panel, set up by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, recommended that the NSF continue its current level of funding for the program and allow the existing 24 STCs to recompete in the future.
The NSF requested the study to evaluate the accomplishments of the program against its goals in research, education, and knowledge transfer. According to the resulting report, "An Assessment of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers Program" (National Academy Press), "The STC program has produced an effective means for identifying particularly important scientific problems that require a center mode of support. Many STCs also provide a model for the creative interaction of scientists, engineers, and students in various disciplines and across academic, industry, and other institutional boundaries."
The report had several recommendations for the NSF. Among them were for the STC program to focus primarily on research and the undergraduate and graduate education linked to it, encourage but not require that proposed STCs be multidisciplinary, and coordinate reviews of the centers to avoid redundant data collection and share previously collected data.
The full report is available at http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/stc/.
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