With every presentation, the vision is more and more refined.
We now have three focused projects; we call them systems-integration-experiments (SIE), following the NSF ERC lingo (good old days : ), each of which a real-world embodiment of the vision in a different application domain.
We now are more confident than ever that we can use these SIE’s to make IMSC sustainable because each SIE has a lot to offer to our faculty investigators (to integrate their research and pursue larger funding and/or different types of funding sources), industry partners (to get exposure to USC brand, to IMSC’s government and international partners and to other IMSC’s industry partners), USC organizations (to get access to the state-of-the-art systems) and to our international partners (to train their students, to partner with IMSC for their internal proposals and to help us with our system developments). It is now very clear to us that SIE’s are indeed bridging the gap between fundamental research and the real-world application requirements. They foster an ideal environment to integrate and promote multidisciplinary research.
In my first 11 years at IMSC, I always thought that all these concepts: SIE, multidisciplinary research, industry relationships, international collaboration, education program, etc. are all inventions of NSF to make us suffer during the ERC annul site-visits, distracting us from the “research”. It took me a year as the director to come to the realization that these concepts are actually extremely useful and provide exactly the value-proposition that they were supposed to provide to make a center self-sustained. According to the famous Persian proverb, the water was here [in the jug] all along, while we were wandering around with parched lips (excuse my simplistic translation).
All in all, this past year has been a blast with many new experiences I could’ve not acquired in a decade. Soon I will share with you some of the new funding opportunities IMSC is tapping into from all over the place: industry, government, international and internal USC organizations. Of course, special thanks goes to the IMSC associate directors, faculty members and students for working so hard and to our dean, Dr. Yannis Yortsos for believing in us and for his limitless support.
I was presenting the IMSC intro slides about two weeks ago to one of our industry partners and one of the participants there told me that he has no doubt in his mind that IMSC will be successful and will grow. My response to him was: “so catch us while we are still small!” An arrogant response I could’ve not imagined retorting to a potential funder a year ago.