EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Sept. 17, 2020) – Grant proposals recently submitted by three of the Centers of Excellence at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University have received funding.

The Center of Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEE&I), led by Thaddeus McEwen, Ph.D., received $119,997 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a proposal in collaboration with North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University. The universities will evaluate the use of I-Corps and the Lean Launchpad Methodology to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and produce innovation-worthy concepts at historically Black colleges and universities that traditionally have not had intensive research initiatives. Results will be used to create participation of minority students and faculty into the I-Corps program.

The CEE&I also received $30,000 from the NC IDEA Foundation to establish a Minority Business Development Academy to help underrepresented minority entrepreneurs strengthen the fundamentals of their businesses, create a roadmap for growth and gain access to capital needed to grow. The long-term goal is the creation of jobs and new wealth for underrepresented families who need it most.

The Center of Excellence in Product Design and Advanced Manufacturing (CEPDAM), led by Salil Desai, Ph.D., received $500,000 from the NSF for its proposal, “Excellence in Research Manufacturing of Sustainable and Environment Friendly Bio Binder from Algae for Epoxy Based Composite Materials.” The principal investigator (PI) is Lifeng Zhang, Ph.D., of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) with co-PIs Ajit Klekar, Ph.D., of JSNN and Lijun Wang, Ph.D., of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

The CEPDAM also received a $60,000 NSF grant for “Data Science Research in Biomanufacturing” with Desai as the PI and Sang Jin Lee, Ph.D., of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine as co-PI, and a $42,000 Army Educational Outreach Program grant for “Educational Opportunities in STEM for students of low socioeconomic status: A STEM Inclusion Initiative” with Robert Cobb, Ph.D., as PI.

The Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach (CREO) received approval from the National Security Agency for its proposal to become an OnRamp II school. Lead PI Belinda Shipps, Ph.D., of Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics with PIs Kossi Edoh, Ph.D., of the College of Science and Technology, Kaushik Roy, Ph.D., and Xiaohong Yuan, Ph.D., both of the College of Engineering, initiated this effort, which helps increase the pipeline of STEM students pursuing employment with NSA while enhancing their academic caliber.

Through OnRamp II, the NSA offers academic scholarships in return for a service obligation, internship opportunities, academic and career advice and assistance to undergraduate and graduate students; provides sabbatical opportunities to faculty members to enhance collaboration and partnership; and allows schools to seek and perform contract-based cybersecurity lablet work in mission-focused cybersecurity research. 

About North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is the nation’s largest historically black university, ranked number one among public HBCUs by U.S. News & World Report. It is a land-grant, doctoral high-research classified university by the Carnegie Foundation and constituent member of the University of North Carolina system. A&T is known for its leadership in producing graduates in engineering, agriculture and other STEM fields. The university was founded in 1891 and is located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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