National Science Foundation chief to speak at Urbana campus

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The director of the National Science Foundation plans to visit the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus to mark the agency’s sponsorship of a new engineering research center. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports France Cordova will speak Thursday at an event to celebrate an $18.5 million grant for the Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems center, or POETS. Cordova became director of the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency, last year. She’s an astrophysicist, former Purdue University president and was the first female chief scientist at NASA. The POETS center will conduct research aimed at producing lighter, more efficient power electronics systems for cars, planes, construction equipment and hand-held tools. Illinois’ leading public university will lead the center with Howard University, Stanford University and the University of Arkansas as partners.