Federal “Innovation Engines” Grants Secured by Three Oregon Schools were authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Washington, D.C. –  U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Val Hoyle and Andrea Salinas said today that the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University have each secured $1 million, two-year federal research grants that were authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act.

The National Science Foundation regional innovation engines grants earned by the Oregon universities are for research into semiconductor, mass timber and smart grid technologies.

 “These competitive grants awarded to these university researchers in our state demonstrate clearly how Oregon combines world-class science with cutting-edge opportunities in semiconductors, mass timber and smart grid technologies,” said Wyden, who co-chaired an Oregon task force on semiconductor competitiveness, wrote significant pieces of the CHIPS and Science Actand invited Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to meet last month with state semiconductor leaders. “That adds up to a well-deserved triple crown of success for OSU, the U-of-O and PSU that will generate good-paying jobs in our state as well as continued economic growth in rural, urban and suburban communities.”

“The future of manufacturing is in Oregon, from semiconductor advancements and mass timber to smart grid technologies,” said Merkley. “These competitive awards affirm Oregon’s dedication to innovative research and will create job opportunities and support economic growth for communities across the state.”

“I am pleased that funding from the CHIPS and Science Act is reaching our universities,” said Blumenauer. ”These grants are supporting critical Oregon industries, with positive economic and social benefits for our communities. I look forward to seeing results in the years to come.”  

“I am thrilled to see these grants awarded to advance progress in mass timber, semiconductor, and smart grid technologies,” said Bonamici, a senior leader of the House Committees on Education and the Workforce and Science, Space, and Technology who helped shape significant provisions of the CHIPS and Science Act“Oregon’s public universities are critical to our country’s scientific developments and are an engine of research and innovation. This research by Oregon State, the University of Oregon, and Portland State University will help create good family-wage jobs in our state and further our just transition to a green economy.”

“Oregon State University and the University of Oregon are the largest employers in Oregon’s Fourth District and these awards from the National Science Foundation demonstrate their innovative academic and scientific leadership on mass timber and semiconductor research,” said Hoyle. “I’m thrilled these federal grants will expand job opportunities for Oregonians, create training programs, and focus in on important resources to the PNW.”

The regional innovation engines grants from NSF to the three Oregon universities are as follows:

  • $1 million to the University of Oregon to lead a team with Oregon State University, Washington State University, and more than 25 other organizations to coordinate research and education innovations in mass timber architecture, engineering, and construction, along with manufacturing and forest management, to address social and environmental challenges in housing, workforce development, equity, and natural resource stewardship. Mass timber products use small-scale dimensional lumber, wood veneer, and chips fastened together to create robust structural materials that store carbon. Applying mass timber products in buildings can significantly reduce the carbon footprint while also improving forest health and mitigating catastrophic wildfires by using wood fiber from restoration projects involving selective harvesting of small-diameter logs.
  • $1 million to Oregon State University to lead a team including the University of Washington, Boise State University, the Oregon Business Council, the city of Hillsboro and more than 20 other partners to advance semiconductor technologies in the Pacific Northwest. The OSU-led semiconductor work aims to develop a regional innovation ecosystem that expands discovery and entrepreneurship and creates training programs to enable a diverse semiconductor workforce by creating clearer pathways to semiconductor careers and raising awareness of these opportunities.
  • $1 million to Portland State University to lead a team of five universities, two national labs, six private companies and industry organizations, as well as federal, state, and local government institutions working to make a truly “smart” electrical grid a reality. The project will identify obstacles to smart grid growth and develop plans to overcome them through academic research, entrepreneurship, workforce training, strategic government investments, and business collaborations, The next generation of smart grids will automatically adjust load and supply–taking energy from home batteries and electric vehicles during peak demand and recharging them when there is excess supply.

These three NSF Engines grants for the Oregon universities are among NSF program awards nationally to more than 40 teams, with each team receiving up to $1 million for two years in this Type-1 category. Type-2 awards provide up to $160 million for up to 10 years, and the first round of those Type-2 awards are anticipated in the fall.

“We are grateful for this NSF grant which will allow the University of Oregon to partner in unique ways with universities, industry, government, non-profits, national labs, and others to innovate in sustainable mass timber technologies,” said UO Interim President Jamie Moffitt. “This work will benefit regional economies, accelerate technological development, address social challenges, improve the United States’ global competitiveness, and create local, high-wage jobs.”

“Our team and the entire Oregon State research community are ecstatic over the opportunity to help create the kind of impact this NSF Engine project makes possible,” said Greg Herman, OSU professor of chemical engineering. “We’re guided by a vision to develop a regional innovation ecosystem for the semiconductor industry, one that expands discovery and entrepreneurship and creates training programs to build a diverse, top-tier workforce. This partnership with other major research universities and industry, government and national laboratories for economic development is a truly historic and powerful collaboration.”

A web version of this release is here.