TCNJ innovation and business partnership efforts to get boost through new NSF grant

The College of New Jersey in Ewing has been awarded a three-year, $400,000 grant to strengthen innovation and encourage partnerships with industry, nonprofits and governmental entities. The college will partner with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in this work.

The funding was awarded as part of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Enabling Partnerships to Increase Innovation Capacity program.

TCNJ is one of 47 institutions across the U.S. to be awarded a total of $19.6 million in EPIIC grant funding. Kean University and Rowan College at Burlington County were also recipients of the NSF funding.

“TCNJ produces graduates who are prepared to immediately contribute to their fields and professions,” Andrea Welker, dean of TCNJ’s School of Engineering and principal investigator for the grant, said. “The funds from this grant will help strengthen the connection between the college and the corporate, nonprofit and governmental arenas in new and dynamic ways.”

Welker is co-spearheading the effort with Sunita Kramer, dean of TCNJ’s School of Science. The two schools will be leading efforts to better connect the college to corporate partners by working closely with other academic schools on campus as well as the college’s Career Center and external relations team.

During the grant period, TCNJ will create an advisory council of college leaders who are tasked with developing deliverable outcomes with current and future partners.

Another key component of this work will be leveraging TCNJ’s career-assistance app Handshake as a means of connecting students with industry opportunities, including internships, externships and other experiential learning opportunities. The college will also explore opportunities with partners to develop training and workforce development support that best positions partners to excel in new and dynamic ways.

“This project will enable TCNJ to strengthen its institutional capacity and not only position our students for success as they enter the workforce but also respond to our partners’ workforce needs dynamically, benefitting our region and the state,” Kramer said. “We know these efforts will lead to enhanced student success, additional faculty research and scholarship opportunities, as well as enhanced engagement in the regional innovative ecosystem.”

“NSF aspires to accelerate the nation’s research and innovation enterprise and empower all Americans to participate in the science- and technology-driven workforce,” Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for technology, innovation and partnerships, said. “EPIIC reinforces NSF’s commitment to develop new, inclusive innovation ecosystems by connecting diverse networks of partners to work together to drive the expansion of key technologies — and the technology workforce — in the U.S. and in turn address pressing national, societal and geostrategic challenges.”