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NSF Conducts 6th Year Renwal Site Visit
by Phillip Braun, MIRTHE Special Projects Manager and Bernadeta Wysocka, MIRTHE Industrial Liaison

On March 20-22, 2012, ten members of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-led Site Visit Team (SVT) conducted a sixth-year review of MIRTHE. The NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program, of which MIRTHE is a part, is monitored largely through an annual review process; reviews in years three and six are particularly significant in that they place more emphasis on a Center's cumulative achievements, as well as its vision for the future.

Day 1 began with an overview of MIRTHE and its programs given by MIRTHE director Claire Gmachl. This was followed by detailed presentations on MIRTHE's three research Thrusts, which discussed respective Thrust goals, progress, collaborative and technology transfer efforts, and future plans. A significant portion of the afternoon was dedicated to a poster session exhibiting student and

Members of the SVT listening to a presentation; front-to-back: Luiz Da Silva, Sherri Hunt, Kenneth Wang, Cristina Davis, and Sarah Klein. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

post-doc research; among other things, this activity presented the strong interconnectedness of MIRTHE's research and education objectives. The day concluded with a focus on MIRTHE's industrial outreach program, including a presentation by Industrial Liaison Bernadeta Wysocka and a closed session between the SVT and MIRTHE's Industrial Advisory Board (IAB).

Following a breakfast discussion between the SVT and administrators from MIRTHE member universities, the morning of Day 2 focused on MIRTHE's education efforts. This included presentations on MIRTHE's formal education and education outreach programs for both college and pre-college students and on diversity in education, as well as an external evaluation and a closed session between the SVT and MIRTHE's Student Leadership Council (SLC). In the afternoon, the
Students and post-docs displayed their work to the SVT, industry, faculty, and fellow students at the poster session on Day 1. (Photo by Bernadeta Wysocka)

SVT participated in a lunch discussion with MIRTHE's Scientific Advisory Board (SAB); afterward the SVT was given tours and demonstrations of a variety of MIRTHE laboratories and testbeds--a chance to see MIRTHE research and technology in action. The day concluded with presentations on MIRTHE infrastructure and future plans, especially with respect to sustaining MIRTHE after ERC funding expires.

On Day 3 MIRTHE leadership provided its responses to issues raised

by the SVT the previous evening; the SVT then used the remainder of the day to compose a detailed report on the visit and renewal proposal document for the NSF. Preliminary feedback received has been encouraging. A full schedule for the site visit can be found here; posters and presentations can be accessed by logging in, or, for non-affiliates, upon request. Post-doc Prathap Ramamurthy explains one of MIRTHE's field-deployed sensors to members of the SVT. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)