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Executive Summary: AAAS Review of the NSF Science and Technology Centers Integrative Partnerships (STC) Program, 2000-2009

This report summarizes evidence and findings from the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) study of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science and Technology Centers Integrative Partnerships (STC) program. The study is supported by a merit-reviewed research grant directed at the following three specific assessment objectives of interest to NSF’s Office of Integrative Activities (OIA):

  • assess the performance and accomplishments of NSF’s STC program against program goals and objectives in research, education, knowledge transfer, diversity, and integrative partnerships;
  • assess the effectiveness of the STC mode of support in addressing important science and technology grand challenges and emerging opportunities; and
  • envision the future of the STC program in advancing U.S. leadership in science and technology.

As a program-level study, the AAAS review is directed at the aggregate activities of the 17 STCs funded in three competitions held between 1998 and 2005-06 (see Table 1). The first of these competitions led to the “class of 2000” (n=5); the second to the “class of 2002” (n=6), and the third  to the classes of “2005 (n=2) and 2006” (n=4). The 17 centers span a diverse set of scientific and technological fields and lines of inquiry. Their activities are distributed over six NSF research directorates, with great disciplinary breadth inclusive of university participants and non-university partners. Excluded from coverage are the 25 STCs funded between 1988 and 1998, and the most recent cohort of five STCs funded in 2010.

The AAAS review is designed to inform NSF’s internal consideration of the past, present, and prospective value of the STC program. Further, it aims to contribute evidence that can be used to shape and support future decisions about the program through interactions with Executive and Legislative entities, the academic research community, and other constituencies.