The most pressing societal problems are often messy – difficult because their solutions require ideas from multiple disciplines and multiple perspectives. The following are major centers that bring together engineers, scientists, public policy experts, industry leaders and government officials to help solve problems and create opportunities.
The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment supports a vibrant and expanding program of research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy development, energy conservation, and environmental protection and remediation. The center takes a highly interdisciplinary approach toward translating fundamental knowledge into practical solutions that will enable sustainable energy production and the protection of the environment and global climate from anthropogenic change.
The Center for Information Technology Policy uses Princeton’s unique strengths to promote an informed public discussion of digital technologies. Combining faculty expertise in technology and engineering, public policy, and the social sciences with a strong University tradition of service, the Center’s research, teaching, and public programs address digital technologies as they interact with policy, markets and society. The center is a joint initiative of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
The Combustion Energy Frontier Research Center, seeks to understand and optimize the design of next-generation fuels, such as those derived from plants and other renewable sources, in advanced engines for transportation vehicles. The center is based at Princeton, but its projects are led by 14 of the nation's top combustion scientists from seven academic institutions and the Sandia National Laboratories, with expertise in quantum chemistry, chemical kinetics, combustion theory, modeling and diagnostics. The center is funded by the Department of Energy.
The Gigascale Systems Research Center, a consortium of dozens of researchers across 15 universities, focuses on improving the speed, reliability and energy-efficiency of tomorrow's computer systems while reducing their cost. As today’s computing demands strain the capabilities of current processor design technology, this center explores new designs, programming techniques and applications of computing to achieve orders-of-magnitude improvement in cost, quality and efficiency. The center is part of the Focus Center Research Program, a collection of six research centers that collectively receive funding from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a coalition of U.S. semiconductor, computer systems and defense companies.
The Keller Center seeks to prepare all students – both engineers and non-engineers – to be leaders in an increasingly complex, technology-driven society. The center is creating new courses and strengthening existing ones that go beyond purely technical subjects to provide students a broader understanding of the global economic, environmental and cultural forces that shape and are shaped by technology. At the same time, the center is improving students' technical education by exposing them to real engineering projects throughout their four years, through internships, entrepreneurial opportunities and multidisciplinary courses.
The Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE) center is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center headquartered at Princeton, with partners City College New York, The Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The center is developing systems for sensing minute levels of gases in the air with unprecedented economy, ease and precision. Working from fundamental physics, through device engineering and collaboration with industrial partners, the center's goal is to produce devices that revolutionize medical testing and environmental monitoring.
The Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM) is a multidisciplinary research center driving advances in materials science and photonics. A particular strength is research that combines expertise in "hard" materials such as conventional semiconductors and ceramics with knowledge of "soft" materials such as plastics, biological molecules and fluids. Integrating these conventionally distinct areas yields breakthroughs in fields from telecommunications to energy production to biotechnology. The institute brings together physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers, as well as industry partners, to bring fundamental advances to market.