Published in Blog Posts
21 Jan, 2010 Posted by:

Keep Going

The main goal of NSF ERC’S (Engineering Research Centers) is to become self-sustained, i.e., remain active and operational after the NSF’s eleven year funding terminates (dubbed “graduated ERC’s”).

While it is easy to bring faculty members and researchers together when the prestige and funding of NSF exist, keeping them around after “graduation” is challenging. The main challenge is to create a value-add to which researchers do not have access as individuals or as ad-hoc groups coming together opportunistically for proposal-writing. In some cases the administrative infrastructure of a center is offered as the value-add. In some cases, the center’s name credential continues to be the value-add. In other cases, the center’s vision is the value-add. However, my favorite value-add, being a computer science system researcher, is a testbed system/platform in which the researchers can integrate and test their mature research results. Therefore, at IMSC (graduated ERC of 2008), we are now planning to develop a proof-of-concept system for its “Geo-Immersion” vision, called iCampus. Given that at this age and time, no name is unique anymore, we make iCampus unique by adding USC as suffix: iCampus.USC. You can read more about iCampus here.

The value-add of iCampus.USC to attract researchers is that it becomes a one-stop-shopping for faculty members, i.e.,

  • IMSC will interact with various USC organizations (e.g., ISD, DPS) to acquire their data, understand their applications and seek their collaboration for iCampus
  • IMSC will interact with various industries to bring them to iCampus
  • The iCampus testebed can be used and referred to in various proposals (including single-PI proposals) as a proof-of-concept system on-top of which the prior-work has been integrated/tested or the proposed work will be integrated/tested.
  • IMSC will provide the research and programming staff required to develop, maintain and manage iCampus
  • The good news is that the majority of resources and personnel required to operate iCampus (and hence IMSC) are fundable by research grants. The remainder can be funded by industry gifts, licensing revenues, or through some overhead recovery, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!