By Holly Crawford and Fernando J. Muzzio, Rutgers University School of EngineeringIn the fall of 2004, a team of Rutgers faculty led by Dr. Fernando J. Muzzio and colleagues from Purdue University, the University of Puerto Rico at MayagÃ¼ez and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, submitted a proposal for an Engineering Research Center (ERC) to the National Science Foundation. The ERC is one of NSFs largest and most prestigious awards. On March 11, NSF invited Rutgers to expand the proposal and resubmit it on June 16, 2005 -- it had asked this of only 24 out of 125 ERC preproposal applicants.The proposed Center for Structured Organic Compounds would focus on understanding pharmaceutical products and manufacturing processes through empirically-anchored scientific inquiry. It would emphasize the synthesis, functionality, and characterization of structured pharmaceutical composites. Apart from conducting research, the ERC would also provide educational programs for graduate and undergraduate students and outreach programs designed to attract members of historically underrepresented populations to the engineering discipline. Outreach to K-12 students would be another important hallmark of ERC activities.The total combined NSF/institutional/industrial funding level for this ERC would be be $80M over ten years. The ERC will act as a catalyst for attracting additional funding from industry, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the military, and Congress. More importantly, the ERC would become the national home for pharmaceutical engineering and technology in the United States, thereby creating opportunities for new and existing businesses, the creation of high-tech jobs, and cutting-edge technologies and applications that will benefit society.Industry can play a pivotal role in an ERC. Industrial members could take advantage of research undertaken by ERC engineers and scientists by underwriting specific thrust areas or projects, sponsoring graduate and undergraduate students, serving as mentors, participating on advisory boards, or donating equipment. The university-industry partnership would serve the greater good, ensuring that the Centers research and associated activities positively transform the pharmaceutical engineering and manufacturing sectors as well as engineering education locally and globally.We invite members of industry to learn more about our proposed ERC and how they can participate. We will be holding on organizational meeting for industry at Rutgers University on May 20, 2005. In addition, we can e-mail information packets upon request. Interested parties should contact Holly Crawford or Fernando J. Muzzio at the Rutgers School of Engineering, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, New Jersey, 08554. Our e-mails, respectively, are [email protected] and [email protected].