Engineering: The Long View
NSF Engineering: The Long View
I. STRATEGIC THINKING
Our Vision. In partnership with society, engineering creates,
integrates, and applies new knowledge across ever-changing disciplines to create
shared wealth, protect and restore the environment, and improve the quality of
As we enter the 21st century, society's well-being will increasingly depend
on maintaining a preeminent engineering work force and technical knowledge base.
This challenge will be ably met by a strong and dynamic engineering community,
forged out of the many engineering and related disciplines.
Advancements in the quality of education will give tomorrow's engineers a
broader command of science and technology, as well as a rich and holistic
context for solving societal problems and creating new products and processes.
Our engineers will reflect the rich fabric of life, with all its diversity, and
will, therefore, have a better understanding of the world and its people. They
will be able to assume stronger leadership roles in government, industry, and
academe. Likewise, the education of all citizens will include an early exposure
to the engineering process and its impact on society, which is needed to
understand and deal with our rapidly changing technological world.
Continued disciplinary strength and added attention to disciplinary
interfaces, where increasingly new knowledge is created, will generate fresh
ideas and directions for engineering education and research and boost the
synergy between them. Integrative partnerships among universities, industry,
and government will develop to exploit new discoveries, applying engineering
solutions to the Nation's most pressing problems, such as renewing the Nation's
civil infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing and the service industries,
improving health care, and protecting the environment.
In partnership with all NSF entities, other Federal agencies, the
private sector, and public constituencies, NSF's Engineering Directorate (ENG)
will play a vital and catalytic role in realizing this vision.
Our Mission. ENG seeks to strengthen the capability of
engineering--its knowledge bases and systems, its institutions, and its human
and physical resources--to contribute to the Nation's prosperity, security, and
welfare. It does this by supporting programs and activities that foster
innovation, creativity, and excellence in engineering education, fundamental
research, and knowledge application and by promoting the natural synergy between
Our Goals. In pursuit of this mission, ENG seeks to
- Improve the quality of engineering education and the attraction and
retention of students to yield well-educated, professionally oriented engineers
who are able to assume broad leadership roles in society.
- Foster intellectual growth and technological advances by supporting
leading-edge research in the engineering disciplines, at disciplinary
interfaces, and in multidisciplinary areas.
- Encourage integration and synergy between education and research, the
fields of science and engineering, and research and practical applications.
- Capitalize on the rich diversity of human resources by increasing the
number of women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities who
participate fully in engineering education, research, and practice.
- Promote new partnerships and cooperation among the diverse engineering
constituencies, including academe, industry, other Federal agencies, and other
II. THE PLANNING ENVIRONMENT
Past Efforts. In 1986 NSF set out to strengthen and revitalize the
support of engineering education and research within the Foundation. The goals
were to (1) strengthen support for cross-disciplinary, systems-oriented
research; technology-driven fields, such as design and manufacturing; and
emerging technologies, such as biotechnology and light wave technology; (2)
improve undergraduate engineering education; and (3) increase the participation
of underrepresented groups in engineering. To date there has been significant
progress in meeting these goals. ENG is currently supporting 18 Engineering
Research Centers, which provide unique environments focused on technological
systems where cross-disciplinary education and research have flourished and
yielded new technologies and engineering graduates responsive to industry's
contemporary and future needs. Support for design, manufacturing, materials,
biotechnology, and other technology-oriented fields has grown substantially in
the past 7 years. Support for undergraduate education has grown substantially,
with eight engineering education coalitions helping to change the educational
paradigm. Support for underrepresented groups has increased significantly
during the past few years, but it is too early to tell what broad impact ENG's
efforts in this area will have on the engineering community.
Current Planning Context. In the past 2 years, there has been new
emphasis on strategic thinking, at both the Directorate and agency levels. Last
year, with considerable input from the ENG Advisory Committee, the ENG Strategic
Planning Committee (SPC) produced the first ENG Long View document.
Concurrently, the NSF Director and the National Science Board (NSB) chartered
The National Science Board Commission on the Future of the National Science
Foundation whose Report provided the framework for our subsequent efforts. A
dominant theme in the Commission Report is the need for greater linkages and
integration in all facets of NSF activities. The NSB Commission went on to
provide a robust context for NSF's long-term vision:
The history of science and its uses suggest that NSF should have two
goals in the allocation of its resources:
- 1. To support first-rate research at many points on the frontiers of
knowledge, identified and defined by the best researchers.
- 2. To balance the allocation of resources in strategic research areas in
response to scientific and engineering opportunities to meet national goals.
It is in the national interest to pursue both goals with vigor and in a
Pursuant to the NSB Commission Report, ENG has been engaged with NSF staff
to develop five strategic themes to guide ENG efforts through the next decade.
These themes are embraced in this document and are as follows:
- Intellectual Integration--to synergize the knowledge and skills of
diverse disciplines and cultures
- Organizational Integration--to promote mutually beneficial sharing
of knowledge and resources
- Investment in People--to enable our work force and provide
tomorrow's scientists and engineers
- Organizational Agility--to respond positively and creatively to
- Accountability--to build the public's trust
Social, Economic, and Policy Context. The United States is
preeminent in science and engineering, thanks to broad and patient public
support for investment in higher education and research since World War II.
However, as the United States faces severe fiscal constraints because of
soaring budget deficits, intensive international economic competition, and
complex societal problems, expectations for benefits from scientific and
engineering research are growing and changing. There is realization that
scientific leadership does not translate automatically into economic and
industrial success. There are calls for the academic research community to be
more responsive to the Nation's needs and to be more accountable to the public.
ENG must embrace this change by making its programs more attractive to
policymakers and the public. This must be done by enhancing ENG's mission of
fostering excellence, quality, and innovation in engineering education and
As the sense of national security shifts from a military to an economic
focus, the Nation will be increasingly pressed for leadership to increase the
quality of education and research, especially in creating new knowledge to
underpin the strategic technologies upon which the Nation's economy depends. It
is also likely that the defense sector, including the national laboratories,
will play an expanding role in the development of civilian technology.
Interagency collaboration in planning and implementing education and research
programs will increase, and ENG must seek new and innovative partnerships with
Quote from: Jose Ortega y Gasset,
philosopher "Mission of the University", 1944
As corporate research becomes more sharply focused on market-oriented
research, with fewer companies supporting long-term research, industry will
increasingly rely on university-based research to underpin industrial
technologies. For industries to remain competitive, there will be a growing
need to shorten the lead time between discovery and deployment of technology,
and to manage appropriately technological innovation. ENG's efforts to foster
appropriate university/industry interfaces thus will become increasingly
Changing demographics, new information-intensive technologies, and
accelerating costs will intensify university focus on the nature of the mix of
research and teaching. In the engineering schools, the traditional engineering
disciplines are changing, with the boundaries becoming increasingly blurred.
Schools will become more selective in nurturing their research capabilities and
bolder in educational innovation. ENG support and leadership will be needed to
help engineering schools implement these changes.
As the result of improved communications and transportation, the world is
rapidly shrinking. Over the past 10 years there have been several mutually
reinforcing trends: (1) convergence in technical capabilities of industrialized
nations, e.g., the emergence of the Far Eastern countries as technological
powers; (2) global integration of national technology markets; (3) the
integration of Europe through the European Community (EC); (4) improved access
to the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; and (5) stronger intellectual
and economic links to Africa and Latin America. This new global environment
demands that the engineering community at large and the ENG staff become more
III. STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS
During the next several years, ENG will employ a twofold strategy:
- 1. Capitalize on the momentum gained in nurturing individual
investigator scholarship, strengthening interdisciplinary systems-oriented
research, increasing the participation of underrepresented groups, focusing on
undergraduate engineering education, and fostering the emergence of new
research areas and technologies.
- 2. Accelerate progress in integrating engineering education and
research, developing more strategic foci for ENG initiatives, expanding new
interfaces with other disciplines and organizations, and strengthening the
In concert with the engineering community, ENG will seek to identify needed
changes in engineering education and research and then use its resources and
prestige to help the community progress toward jointly identified goals. Change
will result in both incrementally steady improvement and "paradigm shifts,"
- Changing the culture (and reward system) of universities to place
renewed value on quality education and curriculum innovation in the context of
education and research being viewed of equal value and as complementary parts of
an integrated whole.
Changing the role of faculty and the reward system to value the integration,
synthesis, and application of knowledge as well as the discovery of new
So as to synergize activities, ENG's investment strategy is one of
maintaining an appropriate balance among objectives that frequently overlap,
- Fundamental research in pursuit of new knowledge for its own sake, and
for its strategic importance to societal needs
- Established and new investigators
- Single-investigator projects, group projects, and research centers and
- Mature and emerging fields of research
Quote from: President's Council of
Advisors on Science and Technology, December, 1992
Disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research
Accomplishing this balance is not trivial, since ENG makes more than 7,000
award decisions annually. The balance must be based on conscious policy and
priorities developed through the strategic planning process. The following are
strategic directions for which ENG, in partnership with all NSF entities, will
concentrate substantial planning and implementation efforts over the next 5 to
Fostering new paradigms to improve the quality of engineering
Quality engineering education is the development of intellectual skills and
knowledge that will equip graduates to contribute to society through productive
and satisfying engineering careers as innovators, decisionmakers, and leaders in
the global economy of the 21st century. Quality engineering education demands a
process of continuous improvement of and dramatic innovation in student,
employer, and societal satisfaction, by systematically and collectively
evaluating and refining the system, practices, and culture of engineering
education institutions. The studies, workshops, and papers of the past decade
display the following set of dilemmas facing engineering education:
- Emphasis on analysis/reduction over synthesis/integration in the
- Emphasis on the research mission of academe over teaching and
- Slow integration of research results into the engineering curriculum.
- Limited undergraduate involvement in challenging projects and research.
Inadequate knowledge of industrial problems, capabilities, and approaches.
- Introductory courses that cause student attrition, rather than
Quote from: Thomas Jefferson, 1820
Addressing these dilemmas suggests a change in the paradigm underlying
engineering education. Most important, a balance must be struck between the
current focus on engineering science by discipline and a fresh focus on the
integrative nature of engineering. The curriculum must emphasize the
integration of ideas from multiple disciplines and technologies to define and
solve significant engineering problems. This emphasis should extend from initial
courses involving teams of engineering students to advanced courses introducing
current research ideas. The curriculum requires an increased consideration of
design tradeoffs, uncertainty, efficiency of process, and quality.
ENG currently has several efforts under way to address these limitations.
Key among these are the Engineering Education Coalitions (EEC), the ENG Faculty
Internships, the Combined Research Curriculum Development Program, the
Engineering Research Centers (ERC), and the Research Experiences for
Undergraduates (REU). The Coalitions address the need for improved introductory
experience in engineering and increased teaching of integration in the
engineering curriculum. The ENG Faculty Internships seek to improve the
interaction of engineering faculty with industry. The Combined Research
Curriculum Development Program addresses the need to increase the rate at which
research advances are invested in the undergraduate curriculum. The ERC program
is an important focus for participation of students in state-of-the-art research
pursued jointly by academe and industry. The REU program supports the training
of faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students in an integrated research
experience. Innovative partnerships such as these provide a focal point for
achieving a change in the paradigm underlying engineering education.
ENG's long-term strategy is to use partnerships with the Directorate for
Education and Human Resources (EHR) and other Federal agencies to encourage the
improvement of engineering education and promote a cultural change in the
engineering education community. Participation of ENG in the multi-agency
defense conversion program, the Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP), designed
to improve the teaching of manufacturing across the engineering curriculum, is
an example of such an effort. These partnerships will seek to (1) break down
the walls separating disciplinary efforts, (2) modernize curriculum and
facilities, and (3) utilize advanced technologies to improve learning in the new
curriculum and promote interaction between disciplinary communities. ENG also
will utilize the traditional grant process to encourage the cultural change
required to address the challenges facing engineering education.
Fostering intellectual growth and technological advances by enabling
researchers to conduct leading-edge research.
"Enablement" requires that ENG provide the resources needed by
investigators to undertake and complete specific research projects. It requires
providing funds not only for individual grants but also to ensure access to
human resources and infrastructure, including laboratories,
computer-communications facilities, and state-of-the-art instrumentation. In
recent years, the real dollar value of an average individual investigator grant
has been seriously eroded. Chronic underfunding of individual grants can impede
progress in a field and force investigators to spend inordinate amounts of time
writing and reviewing proposals.
Simultaneously, the number of proposals from individual engineering faculty
has greatly increased, with the effect that quality research proposals, which
would otherwise be funded, are being rejected for lack of resources. Clearly,
there is a balance that ENG must maintain between making fewer, larger grants
and making more, smaller grants. Either extreme could have serious consequences.
ENG's strategy for "enabling" researchers has the following elements:
Maintain flexibility to make grants of a range of sizes and selectively
increase award sizes in response to the identified needs of specific communities
Evaluate "enablement" through studies and assessments involving
the engineering community.
The support of new investigators (those who have not been previously
supported by NSF) also figures prominently in ENG's strategy for enablement.
Through newly targeted programs, ENG will continue to maintain support for this
group at about 20 percent of total investigator-initiated research.
ENG will selectively promote the use of the small group grant mechanism in
implementing research initiatives. This type of grant allows NSF to assemble a
multi-institution, multidisciplinary team of first-rate individual investigators
to collaborate on multidisciplinary research and systems-oriented issues.
Promoting strategic research through multidisciplinary, interagency
initiatives and fostering the growth of emerging interdisciplinary areas and
Because education and research are closely tied with the application
of knowledge to the pressing concerns of society, strategic research in critical
areas of national priority has become an integral part of ENG's portfolio. These
efforts are identified and developed through the strategic planning process,
which involves workshops with the appropriate research and user communities to
explore and define research opportunities and needs.
Frequently, ENG's special initiatives are part of a larger national R&D
strategy, coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
and the newly established National Science and Technology Council. Examples of
areas where there have been strategically focused interagency efforts to
accomplish national goals include Advanced Manufacturing Technology and
Information and Communication R&D. Such interagency initiatives are
developed with extensive leadership and input from the science and engineering
community at large, as well as from government agencies. They are designed to
increase the potential for early application of recently discovered knowledge by
promoting cooperation among academe, industry, and government at all levels.
Furthermore, they devote significant attention to education and training, as
well as research, through such activities as curriculum development and
instrumentation support. Within budget constraints, ENG's strategy is to be
fully supportive of and meet commitments made to such interagency initiatives.
Examples of Areas Targeted for Rapid Development
With extensive self-study and input from the research and user communities,
ENG's strategic planning process has identified, in partnership with other NSF
directorates, a number of multidisciplinary research areas for aggressive
planning and program development, including the following:
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies. Manufacturing is the foundation
of the U.S. economy. There is now an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the
development and application of new knowledge and advanced technologies--the
processes, information, equipment, and tools needed to dramatically improve the
manufacturing capabilities of a broad spectrum of U.S. industries, ranging from
biotechnology and construction to electronics and automotive. The contribution
of many disciplines are needed to develop the advanced technologies that will
enable advanced manufacturing in the 21st century. Within NSF, ENG is playing a
critical leadership role in integrating efforts across the disciplines. For the
next several years, the directorate will focus on the development of
intelligent (sensor-based) manufacturing cells/systems; advanced fabrication and
processing methods; and integrated computer-based tools for product, process,
and enterprise design. An important cross-cutting issue is the development of
environmentally conscious manufacturing technologies that will emphasize methods
of pollution prevention and minimization of resource waste. A manufacturing
infrastructure must also be put in place to support distributed design and
manufacturing, and new ways must be found to manage these technologies and
integrate them with a knowledgeable work force.
Information and Communication Technologies. Advances in this area
are essential to economic growth and competitiveness in many key U.S.
industries, and they also are critical for the national defense. The transition
from analog to digital processing may provide a window for the United States to
regain its competitiveness in areas such as consumer electronics. In partnership
with NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate,
ENG plays a key role in supporting research and education that underpins the
development of advanced computer-communications technologies. A major national
goal is to develop the common services, systems development and support
environments, and intelligent user interfaces that are the foundation of a
universally accessible national information infrastructure. Several areas where
ENG can make a significant contribution include (1) Health Care Delivery
Systems--distributed access in clinical diagnosis and treatment planning using
advanced telecommunications and networking technologies; (2) Advanced
Manufacturing Technology--virtual factory demonstration projects and pilot
projects using information modeling, visualization, and distributed databases to
demonstrate approaches to agile manufacturing; (3) Civil Infrastructure
Systems--distributed large-scale databases, libraries, and knowledge-based
expert systems for assessment strategies and design methodologies; and (4)
Engineering Education--integration of telecommunications, computer, and
multimedia technologies for new approaches to learning.
Advanced Materials and Processing. The goal is to improve the
manufacture and performance of materials to enhance the Nation's quality of
life, security, industrial productivity, and economic growth. ENG, in
partnership with NSF's Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate,
supports activities ranging from basic research encompassing the creation of new
materials featuring precisely tailored properties and enhanced performance to
the development of processing technologies that can be integrated with design
and manufacturing requirements. The diversity of materials is very wide,
encompassing biodegradable polymers, high-temperature ceramics, and durable
materials for artificial limbs and joints, to name just a few examples.
Biotechnology. Biotechnology is a burgeoning industry worldwide,
promising profound impact on the forefront of innovative technologies in health
care, agriculture, energy, and environmental management. Basic fundamental
research drives advances in all components of biotechnology, as advances in
manufacturing and bioprocessing underpin implementation. In partnership with
NSF's Biological Sciences Directorate, ENG plays an important role in the
support of biotechnology and bioprocessing, including research at several
Engineering Research Centers. Priorities include biotechnology research
applicable to (1) development of pharmaceutical production/manufacturing
processes and scale-up; (2) restoration, maintenance, and remediation of the
environment; and (3) improving, restoring, and preserving human health.
Civil Infrastructure Systems. The rebuilding of our deteriorating
infrastructure depends strongly on successful research efforts that will lead to
new designs, more durable materials, network systems with better controls and
communications, and improved decisionmaking and management processes. An
integrated cross-directorate, multidisciplinary research initiative will be
aggressively pursued to underpin this effort. It will build on NSF's past and
current research efforts but will also envelop a bold, new strategy that
requires systems integration at all levels and focuses on the need to develop
and apply new scientific and engineering knowledge in the following four key
areas: deterioration science, assessment technologies, renewal engineering, and
institutional effectiveness and productivity.
Improved Health Care Delivery Through Engineering. There is a
critical national need to contain the costs of health care, while also improving
the quality of and access to the health care system. This multidisciplinary
thrust seeks to develop new engineering approaches to increased productivity in
the hospital environment; new technologies that can enable the delivery of care
outside the hospital environment and enable low-cost diagnosis and therapy;
advanced materials for use in implants or external devices to increase device
longevity; and improved information and communication systems for better access
to health care and increased patient independence.
Advanced Environmental Technologies. The growing consensus among
experts and nations is that, to secure present and future industrial development
and economic growth, a number of extremely complex environmental problems must
be solved and new ways for managing natural resources and for producing goods
and services need to be found. For this to occur, new knowledge must be
generated where engineering and life, social, and earth sciences are integrated
to (1) improve existing and create new remedial environmental technologies; (2)
develop environmentally sound extraction/production systems where waste and
contam-ination are prevented or minimized; and (3) better understand the
relationships between human activities and the environment.
Management of Technological Innovation. Research in this field
emphasizes the structure of engineering judgment and decisions. Therefore, the
overall goal of NSF's support of this research, led by an NSF ENG-SBE (Social,
Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate) team, is to create new methods
and tools to (1) enhance the ability of the engineering practitioner to assess
and meet market needs and requirements and simultaneously contribute to
innovation and quality; (2) encourage the latest and newest materials,
processes, and technologies into product and process design; and (3) improve the
ability of corporations to formulate and integrate technology and business
strategies that strengthen their competitiveness and productivity. Since the
management of technological innovation focuses on the interface between
engineering and business, research teams will be supported that combine
expertise in engineering; business management; social, behavioral, and economic
sciences; and industrial practice.
Quote from: Arno Penzias, Nobel
Laureate "Ideas and Information," 1989
Increasing human diversity in engineering education, research, and
Historically, engineering has been among those professions in the United
States that have had only modest success in attracting and retaining in its
ranks women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities. Besides
the democratic imperative of equity, recent demographic trends suggest that
engineering will not have the appropriately educated human resources to meet
crucial societal needs, as well as help the Nation remain globally competitive,
unless talented persons from such groups are vigorously recruited, fully
educated, and given equal access to career opportunities. Significant problems
exist all along the student career path. Therefore, an effective long-term plan
should target such problems and develop a set of proactive strategies that
enable underrepresented groups to (1) enter the engineering educational system
well prepared, (2) successfully complete it, and then (3) experience career
advancement and fulfillment, whether it is in the context of industry, academe,
or government. Confronting obstacles faced by underrepresented groups along the
student career path will include efforts by ENG to increase the visibility of
engineering as a career option, to develop and disseminate new educational
paradigms for enhancing student attraction and retention, to further the
movement of undergraduates to graduate engineering education and research, and
to allow underrepresented groups to compete more fully in their chosen
engineering careers. ENG's implementation strategy involves several components:
- Dedicated support for a complementary set of targeted programs designed to
attract and retain underrepresented groups in engineering.
- Collaborative support of programs with other units within NSF as well as
outside groups and organizations.
- Increased support for individual investigators in mainstream programs and
in the Engineering Education Coalitions and Engineering Research Centers.
- Leadership within the engineering community through advocacy and outreach,
such as visits and presentations.
- ENG's providing a role model to the engineering community by example of its
diverse work force, advisory committees, and proposal review panels.
Encouraging mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries.
The past decade has been marked by several mutually reinforcing trends: (1)
increasing global integration of institutions, industries, and markets; (2)
convergence in the science, engineering, and technical capabilities of
industrialized nations; (3) the integration of Europe through the European
Community; (4) the transition of China and the former Soviet-bloc countries from
adversaries to potential partners; and (5) stronger intellectual and economic
links to Africa and Latin America. This new global environment demands that the
engineering community at large and the ENG staff become more internationally
oriented. ENG's strategy for achieving this includes the following elements:
- Working with the Division of International Programs to increase support for
collaborative engineering educational and research efforts between the U.S.
engineering community and other countries on a bilateral as well as a
multinational basis. This includes support for collaborations between
engineering programs at U.S. institutions and selected sister institutions
- Increasing the competence of the engineering community in international
affairs through workshops with foreign partners to review research and education
trends, supporting students and faculty for short-and long-term visits abroad,
and efforts to assess foreign research/technologies vis-a-vis the United
- Supporting and facilitating the engineering academic community's access to
foreign centers of excellence, and encouraging the continuation and advancement
of the collaborative work performed overseas when the researcher returns to the
home U.S. institution.
ENG's strategy will be to support initiatives that are highly cost-effective
and strongly promote strategic objectives that are leveraged with the resources
of other organizations. For example, a joint initiative with the Division of
International Programs (INT) will support academic researchers for
collaborative research at foreign centers of excellence. Research proposals of 2
years' duration will be considered, where the first year overseas will be
supported by INT, and the second year will be supported by the participating
ENG program for reentry back to the principal investigator's home institution.
Building stronger bridges between academe and industry.
Improved bridges are desirable because universities educate personnel and
create fundamental knowledge for industry, and industry provides technical
challenges and support to universities. As the interval between discovery and
industrial innovation becomes shorter, university-industry partnerships must be
strengthened to exploit new opportunities that will arise in areas such as
biotechnology, optoelectronics, telecommunications, and civil infrastructure.
ENG already has many of the key elements in place for achieving this goal,
including (1) a focused division with a major venture capital arm, i.e., the
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program; (2) the establishment of
successful partnerships, such as the Engineering Research Center (ERC) program,
the Industry University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) Program, the State
IUCRC Program, and the Engineering Education Coalitions (EEC) Program; (3) the
Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) program, which
provides significant opportunities for collaborative research among university
and industry investigators; and (4) the appointment of industrial leaders to its
Advisory Committees. Although an excellent foundation has been established, the
Directorate must do much more to encourage a working partnership between
universities and industry. Practical mechanisms for improving the
university/industry interface have been identified through ENG's strategic
planning process and fall into four general categories: (1) facilitating people
exchange, (2) expanding information flow, (3) enabling resource sharing, and (4)
increasing integration of research efforts. Some efforts identified as high
Strengthening of the GOALI Program. This program includes several
elements designed to facilitate interaction between scientists and engineers in
academe and industry. The Engineering Faculty Internship program has provided
successful experience in sending university researchers to industry for
extended stays. ENG is also experimenting with a new approach, the Combined
Research Industrial Sabbatical Program (CRISP), which is designed to encourage
long-term collaborative work between university and industrial researchers. It
includes a six-month industrial sabbatical at the beginning of a three-year
research project, student involvement in both university and industrial
settings, and an allowance for implementation of the research results at the
industrial facility. The Industry/University Cooperative Research Projects
(IUCRP) Program provides for the direct interaction of university and industry
researchers on projects of mutual research interest. Industry supports its
researchers while ENG funds the academic researchers.
Student Internships. Consideration will be given to establishing
opportunities to encourage undergraduate student collaboration on
industry-defined projects, often with the work performed on-site in industry.
The funding of such projects would be as supplements to any existing awards
with the participation of firms engaged in cooperative research, particularly in
the small business and small industry categories. ENG will also consider
providing funds for graduate students to spend a part-time residency in the
participating industrial laboratories.
Technology-Focused Consortia. Such consortia have the potential to
offer access to industrially relevant, pilot-scale equipment that is not
feasible to install at a university. At the same time, university researchers
have assembled a broad range of analytical expertise that is needed by the
consortia. NSF can play a constructive role in funding the participation of
university researchers in existing consortia and in creating prototypes for
industry-led, university-energized discovery, such as with the ARPA-NSF Agile
Expansion of Partnerships with the States. The framework for
cooperation between the States and NSF is built on the States' explicit
recognition of the importance of science, technology, and education to economic
growth at the local level. The idea is based on the notion that innovation
happens locally and that state governments not only are more adept in
synergizing local business development but also have many technology-deployment
initiatives under way. For example, Pennsylvania's Ben Franklin Partnership has
been recognized as a model for technology-based economic development.
Increasing organizational agility and enabling the ENG work force.
A variety of innovative approaches must be undertaken to (1) simplify
management and promote better communication; (2) enable the ENG staff to
function at a higher autonomous level; (3) integrate, coordinate, and synergize
various activities and processes; and (4) substantially increase organizational
agility. The latter is defined to mean the ability of an organization to quickly
and flexibly respond to changing needs and opportunities and to the requirements
of its customers (e.g., the public, the Congress, the Administration, and the
education and research communities). Some of the key strategies for
accomplishing this include--
- Continuing to appoint the best people available, thus broadening the
participation of women, minorities, and the disabled.
- Empowering ENG employees through better training and career development
opportunities, better access to information, and first-rate office automation
- Implementing flexible organizational arrangements to make intellectual
boundaries more permeable, thus promoting intellectual partnerships and team
- Incorporating strategic thinking in all Directorate activities and
assessing program and management outcomes on a regular basis.
- Improving Directorate processes by experimenting with new ways of doing
business, including different review methods for proposals (e.g., the use of
concept papers and electronic panel review) and new support mechanisms.
Evaluating and assessing progress.
Program evaluation is an important element in the Directorate's strategy for
achieving the goals of the Long View. Periodic evaluation of the impact and
utility of ENG's programs will provide crucial information for (1) constant
improvement in program design and management; (2) planning decisions regarding
future directions and funding levels; and (3) external requests for evidence of
program impact and utility. At present, ENG receives information about its
programs from several sources. Committee of Visitors (COV) reviews examine the
propriety of the merit review process in each program. Workshops and the ENG
Advisory Committee provide subjective feedback on the quality of program
performance and effectiveness. Periodic, Directorate-level program status
reviews enable ENG staff and the Assistant Director/ENG to discuss each
program's plans, opportunities, and progress. Directorate program staff also
collect anecdotal "nuggets" of successes from awardees to respond to
requests from Congress and others for evidence of program results.
Collectively, these mechanisms are important but do not fully meet ENG's
growing needs for internal and external accountability. With increasing interest
in and scrutiny of ENG programs and activities, systematic, externally conducted
program evaluations are needed to enhance the ability of Directorate staff to
make informed, defensible decisions about future investments.
The ENG program portfolio is highly differentiated in both substance and
scale. Each type of program will require a different evaluation approach. In
addition, the questions that a specific evaluation is intended to answer must be
consistent not only with the design of the program, but also with its level of
Evaluation of fundamental research will examine a variety of input and
output characteristics of ENG support for disciplines over time and in relation
to its goals. In terms of input, studies would look at such things as the
breadth of ENG's portfolio of awards in a discipline, the degree to which these
awards were for state-of-the-art research, and the extent to which ENG's support
focused on research problems of importance to academe and industry. Evaluation
of strategic research programs, for example, the earthquake hazard mitigation
program, will involve examination of their success in meeting identified
strategic goals and their impact on the specified problem or issue.
Center programs, especially those more than 5 years old, will receive a
combination of progress monitoring via formalized data collection and formal
studies of the impact of the center. Infrastructure programs will receive
systematic tracking of participants to enable monitoring of academic and career
progress, plus longitudinal evaluations of the programs' impact on participants.
Every ENG program or activity should have a plan that specifies how evaluation
of its portfolio will be carried out. Similarly, all new programs and
initiatives should include an evaluation plan in the initial proposal that is
linked to the program's goals.
Summary--Toward More Holistic Engineering
Quote from: President Bill Clinton and
Vice President Al Gore "Technology for America's Economic Growth. A New
Direction to Build Economic Strength" February 22, 1993
As we move into the swifter current of the 21st century, the world grows
more exciting, more complex, and more connected. Solutions to tomorrow's
problems will require the contributions of many disciplines and points of view.
For example, engineering research on renewing the civil infrastructure will
have to incorporate knowledge on the human, economic, and institutional context.
The same is true for research aimed at protecting the environment, improving
health care, and making manufacturing more productive. Because engineering's
core as a profession lies in integrating all knowledge to some purpose,
engineering must take the lead in drawing together the science and engineering
It all begins with the student--each engineering student must receive a
holistic education that cultivates his or her ability to bridge the boundaries
between the disciplines and make the connections that will produce deeper
insights and lead to more creative solutions.
In partnership with many others, the Engineering Directorate can help create
more holistic and integrated engineering--in research, education, and practice.
This is the unifying concept that binds together the various plans and
strategies contained in this document. The plans and strategies will change
over time, but this concept, this vision, will serve to guide the Engineering
Directorate long into the future.
For more information see--
STIS (Science and Technology
Information System) flyer
(how to get on-line information about NSF programs)
NSF General Publications
NSF Guide to
(program details and deadlines)
Grants for Research and Education in Science and Engineering
(how to apply for grants; forms required; etc.)
To order these publications:
via Internet: pubs by phone: 703-306-1130
by FAX: 703-644-4278
by mail: Forms and Publications Unit National Science Foundation 4201
Wilson Blvd. Arlington, VA 22230
NSF's Engineering Directorate is also described in the Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance (CFDA,47.041=Engineering) issued by the Office of Management
and Budget and the General Services Administration.
About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-507)
created NSF to promote the progress of science and engineering, and education in
those areas. NSF is independent--not part of any other Federal department or
agency--and run by a presidentially appointed director and a board of 24
scientists and engineers, university officials and industry leaders, and a staff
of about 1,200. NSF accounts for almost a fourth of all Federal support to
academic institutions for basic research. With assistance from more than 55,000
outside experts, NSF reviews nearly 30,500 proposals a year and awards more than
16,000 grants and contracts to some 2,000 universities, colleges, academic
consortia, nonprofit institutions, and small businesses.
In accordance with Federal statutes and regulations and National Science
Foundation policies, no person, on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national
origin, or disability, shall be excluded from participation in, denied the
benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under, any program or activity
receiving financial assistance from the National Science Foundation.
The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf)
capability, which enables individuals with hearing impairment to communicate
with the Division of Personnel and Management about NSF programs, employment, or
general information. This number is (703) 306-0900.