A day in Lubbock (TX) is a day well-spent, particularly if you have the chance to explore the beautiful campus of Texas Tech University. From strolling the wide-open spaces of Memorial Circle to admiring the stunning Spanish Renaissance architecture of the Administration Building, there’s plenty to see on campus. The buzz is real with a huge diverse student population and Texas Tech is celebrating its centennial year too.
But the highlight of my recent visit to campus was to be at the Maddox Engineering Research Center, home to the 2022-funded Gen 4 Engineering Research Center (ERC) by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the 6-month site visit by the NSF officers.
Called the “Center for Advanced Sustainable Functional Materials for Efficient Reduction” (CASFER) (www.CASFER.us), the cutting-edge research being conducted by TTU and its partner institutions (GA Tech, FAMU, Case Western, and MIT) is nothing short of awe-inspiring and a testament to the power of interdisciplinary research and collaboration by faculty and students.
CASFER is working towards creating a circular economy for agricultural products by developing new methods for recycling and repurposing waste materials from farms and food production facilities. It integrates engineering, chemistry, and agronomy to create novel materials and processes that can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient food system.
During the 1-day meeting, which was attended by partner institutions, industry partners, and students had the opportunity to present their ongoing research findings, discuss projects, and receive feedback from the program officers. In addition to presenting their research findings, the CASFER team had the opportunity to network and collaborate with their colleagues from partner institutions. This collaboration is an essential component of the ERC program, as it enables interdisciplinary teams to leverage their diverse expertise to develop innovative solutions to complex challenges.
The ERC grant provides significant funding over a 10-year period to support CASFER’s research efforts, as well as to support educational and outreach activities that engage students and the broader community in sustainable agriculture and engineering. The goal of the ERC grant is to facilitate the convergence and translation of research into practical applications that can have a significant impact on society and the environment.
The site visit from the NSF was a critical milestone as it provided an opportunity to showcase the Center’s progress and receive feedback from the officers. It’s a crucial part of the NSF ERC program, as it provides an opportunity for the program officers to assess the Center’s progress and ensure that it remains on track to achieve its goals.
Thanks to the entire CASFER team for inviting me to attend, learn, engage, and present on evaluation. Wish I could stay longer to enjoy the art scene in Lubbock and taste some local cuisine. (Next time!)