Furman, other SC schools score $20M NSF grant for research

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Photo provided by Furman University.

Researchers from Furman University and nine other schools across South Carolina have received a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The five-year grant, which is part of NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, will help establish a new statewide initiative known as Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina, or Made in SC.

The initiative will focus on the development of “advanced materials with the potential for commercialization in areas ranging from food safety and water treatment to medicine,” according to a press release from the NSF.

In addition to Furman, collaborating schools include Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, USC Beaufort, Winthrop University, Claflin University, South Carolina State University, and Florence-Darlington Technical College.

The schools will each receive a portion of the grant and use funds to hire researchers; invest in training postdoctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate students; conduct outreach to K-12 schools and the public; and develop new facilities.

Rajendra Bordia, professor and chair of the materials science and engineering department at Clemson University, has been named scientific director of Made in SC. Photo provided by Clemson University.

“We will build on the impressive network of expertise and infrastructure that already exists in the state, further strengthening our reputation as a manufacturing powerhouse, and growing our materials research and development enterprise to new heights,” said Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president for research at the University of South Carolina and director of Made in SC.

As part of the initiative, Furman University will receive $1.3 million to provide for faculty stipends and purchase new research equipment. Some of the funds will also be used to engage K-12 teachers in materials science training through Furman’s Office of Integrative Research in the Sciences.

Clemson University will receive $5.9 million of the grant and hire five new faculty members, support 12 new doctoral students, and invest in new equipment for advanced materials research.

New undergraduate degree programs at USC Beaufort and the College of Charleston and expanded curricula at Winthrop, Claflin, and USC will be developed to create a new pipeline of skilled workers from South Carolina’s higher education institutions into the current and future industries.

Among the current corporations in South Carolina for which Made in SC will provide support and future employees are AVX, BMW, Boeing, Cure Innovations, GE, IBM, Michelin, Milliken, Poly-Med, Savannah River National Laboratory, and Tetramer.

The grant will also provide funding for summer programs to train high school teachers to better prepare students for a future in advanced materials and manufacturing.

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