Skip to main content

Boise State University wins three NSF Regional Innovation Engines awards

New National Science Foundation projects underscore expanding partnerships with industry, agencies, and regional university partners

semiconductor chip

Boise State University is included in three $1 million awards from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program. Boise State researchers will be represented among 40 unique teams to receive the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions.

Boise State Engines

The three Engines and their points of contact at Boise State include:

Nancy Glenn, “Advancing Autonomous Systems Technologies in the Northern Front (North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho)”

This project will expand Boise State’s expertise in autonomous vehicles, including unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) or drones, in both training and applications, in partnership with industry and network members. UAS applications range from infrastructure monitoring to natural resource management, geosciences, and beyond, along with expanding data science.

Lan Li, “Advancing Quantum and Supporting Technologies in the Northern Intermountain States (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho)”

This project is to establish a network of quantum computing and information systems, called the Quantum Capacity, Operational Resilience and Equity (QCORE) in a three-state region (Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho). Boise State will collaborate with Montana State University, University of Wyoming, and local industry partners to enhance economic development, research innovation, and workforce development in the field of quantum computing and information.

David Estrada, “Advancing Semiconductor Technologies in the Northwest (Oregon, Idaho, Washington)”

Aligned to the White House Office of Science and Technology’s National Strategy for Advanced Manufacturing, this project includes federal, regional and state government bodies, private industry and public learning institutions to develop a regional innovation ecosystem that expands discovery and entrepreneurship for the semiconductor industry. Partnerships with academic institutions and nonprofit organizations will also advance pathways for careers in semiconductor manufacturing.

“All three NSF Engines Development projects represent Boise State’s expertise in critical and emerging technologies, and will build upon existing workforce training programs and use-inspired research,” said Vice President for Research and Economic Development Nancy Glenn. “Furthermore, the projects will expand our industry and agency partnerships, ultimately providing new opportunities for students to gain workforce skills and attracting and retaining talent.”

“One of the greatest challenges facing the information and communications technology ecosystem is the amount of energy required to process and store the tremendous amounts of data we produce,” said David Estrada, associate professor of materials science and engineering and site director of Boise State’s NSF Center for Atomically Thin and Multifunctional Coatings. “The emerging Pacific Northwest Semiconductor Ecosystem is very well positioned to solve such semiconductor related challenges, and help reap the economic rewards for Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.”

“Building a robust quantum innovation ecosystem is crucial for economics and national security,” said Lan Li, associate professor of materials science and engineering. “Quantum computing and information systems open new market opportunities in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, financial services, and complex manufacturing. Boise State aims to explore a three-fold plan, including economic development, research innovation, and workforce development, which uniquely fits Boise State and its nationally recognized role in molecular and solid-state quantum materials development and characterization in support of quantum information applications as part of a regional quantum ecosystem.”

The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.

“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”

The awardees span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development Awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystems within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines, which will each have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.

Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.