Campus: CSU, Northridge -- February 26, 2001

Foundation Gives CSUN $600,000 for Materials Science Research Center

The W. M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles has awarded Cal State Northridge $600,000 to support the establishment of a Materials Science Research Center.

The center is an interdisciplinary effort by the College of Engineering and Computer Science and the College of Science and Mathematics to synergistically use experimental and theoretical approaches for the study and design of a new generation of nanoscale materials, microscopic materials used in sensitive scientific equipment.

"This grant is a recognition of our past excellence for materials science and engineering," said Larry Caretto, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science. "With this grant, we will be able to do a higher level of research and provide true collaboration between experimental work in engineering and theoretical work in physics."

Edward Carroll, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, agreed, saying the grant provides a great opportunity for faculty in the two colleges to complement and increase the caliber of each other's work.

In addition to research, the center's faculty will develop an interdisciplinary materials science curriculum for undergraduates. Promising undergraduate students will also have the opportunity to work along side professors as they develop models for nanoscale materials and then test their theories.

"Students engaged in theoretical research will more immediately understand the links to experimental research - and vice versa - within the same research center," Carroll and Caretto said in a letter accompanying the grant application. "This immediate experience far

surpasses merely reading about the other kind of research. A student exposed to this degree of synergy will think differently as a professional scientist, engineer or faculty member, and will have novel approaches to problems."

Materials science is a burgeoning field with broadly diverse applications and with strong theoretical and experimental components. Materials researchers in academic, industrial and governmental laboratories across the nation are increasingly working in teams composed of people with varying backgrounds, including theoreticians, experimentalists, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and other scientists. Their research has generated products as varied as fuels, semiconductor-based devises and insulin pumps.

Caretto and Carroll said graduates schooled in materials science are highly competitive in today's job market.

The W.M. Keck Foundation is one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations. Established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company, the foundation's grant making is focused primarily on the areas of medical research, science and engineering. The foundation also maintains a program for liberal arts colleges and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support in the areas of civic and community services, health care and hospitals, pre-collegiate education and the arts.

The National Science Foundation has ranked CSUN first among 529 master's degree-granting institutions in the number of baccalaureate graduates who went on to complete their doctorates in science and engineering fields.

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