Research Mission & Vision

Research Mission

To empower creative thinkers and innovators to propel and build engineered solutions for tomorrow’s grand challenges through the convergence of transdisciplinary scholarship.

Research Vision

We focus on serving society by leveraging our location in the heart of Los Angeles, by addressing:

  • Equity, safety, and quality of life: inclusion, democratized health, vulnerable communities
  • Health: personalized and precision medicine, human-machine interaction for continuous personalized care, portable smart devices, tools for public health
  • Sustainability: climate, environment, manufacturing, energy, water, public health, coastal resilience
  • Smart mega-cities/urbanization: housing, transportation, the Pacific Rim
  • Additional national priorities: security, defense

These goals are achieved by:

  • Breaking silos and lowering interdisciplinary barriers
  • Embracing the future of engineering as an enabler of societal good
  • Finding practical solutions for the betterment of society
  • Engineering the future and developing hubs for technology and innovation
  • Implementing urban test-beds that leverage our Los Angeles location

USC Viterbi is a major hub for technology and innovation in Southern California. We recognize that folding fundamental research into new knowledge while addressing the needs and interests of industry is a necessity in reaching our vision to impact society and the future workforce. We will therefore continue to expand the scope of the school’s technology innovation programs and create new programs for faculty engagement with industry and the innovation ecosystem in the southern California region. Furthermore, we will make specific efforts to close the loop with policy makers and other stakeholders.

We will continue to strengthen and expand our efforts to sustain intellectual leadership and to train the new generation of scholars. The “Future of Work” envisioned by the Viterbi School has specific and quantifiable programs to reinforce and promote diversity and inclusion not only in our undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training programs, but also in our K-12 outreach. These include developing new and innovative programs for transdisciplinary education that can engage a broad intersection of students and stakeholders.

The Viterbi School is committed to harnessing and innovating engineering to improve the human condition and to enable a path towards sustainable communities and a sustainable environment. We focus on developing solutions for the most pressing challenges and wicked problems of our century, advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges. These span social well-being and equity, critical infrastructure such as energy, water and transportation, health and societal challenges such as homelessness, substance abuse and safety. As a US megacity, Los Angeles encompasses many of these challenges and serves as a microcosm and a living lab of unique transdisciplinary research. Advanced engineering technologies, such as smart sensing, artificial intelligence, robotics, resilient infrastructure design and emergency response systems, among others, are key to addressing the challenges and building safe and inclusive communities. We will also develop key technologies in precision medicine, i.e., analysis of digital health records, decision making support and treatment recommendations; human-machine interaction for personalized care, innovate research in portable smart devices and democratized health, and develop tools in supporting public health, monitoring disease outbreaks, and addressing immunization and vaccine crisis.

To fulfill our goal of serving society, we are developing key research areas and enabling tools, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics, human-machine interaction, and data science, encompassing not only data analytics but also protections for privacy and security in the presence of a plethora of data. The end of Moore's law offers tremendous opportunities for impactful tools to sustain the exponential growth of computing via, for example, specialized ASICs for particular problems, and quantum computing. Industry 4.0, which includes smart sensors and sensing systems, cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing is another area of enabling tools. Yet another is smart/advanced materials.  More information about some of these areas is listed in the column on the right of this page.

For more information on research capabilities at USC, please visit and contact our research centers and departments, or the Viterbi Vice Dean for Research.

Published on October 19th, 2016

Last updated on June 15th, 2024