University leads National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems

By Christin Watkins

The new $18.5 million center for the Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems had a “kickoff meeting” Thursday.

University President Timothy Killeen was in attendance and called the center a “really big deal” and believes new center will affirm “the world-class know-how” of the University in relation to power and electro-thermal systems.

The center is sponsored by the National Science Foundation as an Engineering Research Center and aims to pack more power into less space for electrical systems, according to the Engineering at Illinois website.

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“It was the commitment to education at the University that was very impressive,” said Pramod Khargonekar, assistant director for Directorate of Engineering at the National Science Foundation.

Khargonekar said that finding their next industrial partner was a two-phase process. Originally, 18 out of 198 proposals moved to the second stage and then 10 of the 18 received site visits. Finally, of the three winners, the University was chosen to receive an Engineering Research Center. He called the technological opportunity “very compelling.”

According to the Engineering Research Centers’ website, the University is the lead institution with Howard University, Stanford University and the University of Arkansas as core partners.

“We have funded 67 successful centers throughout the U.S.,” said France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation.

France said the ERC program was created to bring industries and universities together as well as advance engineering research and innovation.

“The beauty of science founded in collaborative, diverse partnerships like ERCs is that sometimes we come across unexpected discoveries and solutions that change the world,” France said.

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