TheDirectorate for Engineering (ENG) seeks to enhance the long-term economic strength, security, and quality of life for the Nation by fostering innovation, creativity, and excellence in engineering education and in research fundamental to the engineering process. ENG's strategy is to promote the natural synergy among engineering education, fundamental research, and the application of technical knowledge. The following are ENG's three interrelated goals, derived from those of the NSF as stated in NSF in a Changing World (NSF 95-24).
The ENG Directorate increases the Nation''s capacity to perform by making catalytic investments in knowledge creation and intellectual growth, that in turn spurs technological innovation and economic growth. To amplify its efforts, ENG focuses on facilitating dynamic partnerships among industry, academe, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, professional societies, and foreign countries. For example, strong support is given to the Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) Initiative, which promotes university and industry collaboration. GOALI seeks to connect university and industry people "up front," specifically at the conceptual end of a research and education endeavor. Strengthening these connections increases the value and responsiveness of engineering education and fundamental research to the private sector. (For more information on the GOALI Initiative, see chapter 10.)
ENG's strategy is one of maintaining an appropriate balance among overlapping needs such as fundamental research in pursuit of new knowledge for its own sake and for its importance to the Nation, mature and emerging fields of research, and disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research. This balance is based on policies and priorities developed through ENG's strategic planning process.
Over 70 percent of the directorate's funding is used to provide grants to individuals and small groups of researchers who are focusing on a broad array of fields that are important in maintaining the vitality and future capability of engineering. Although the research is fundamental in nature, much of it focuses on societal needs, requiring integration and connections. In recent years, support provided for individual research projects has promoted a broad array of technological advances, resulting in a major impact on engineering education and research. Overall, NSF provides about 33 percent of the total Federal support for fundamental engineering research at U.S. universities and colleges.
The directorate's six divisions are as follows.
The Bioengineering and Environmental Systems (BES) Division is concerned with expanding the knowledge base of bioengineering; extending engineering methodologies to include the solution of problems in the biological and medical sciences; employing biological principles for the development of innovative engineering methods and systems; improving our ability to apply engineering principles to correct problems that impair the usefulness of land, air, and water; and exploring basic engineering concepts in the development, conservation, and use of ocean resources and systems.
The Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS) Division seeks to improve and expand fundamental engineering knowledge in the broad areas of mechanics, structures, geomedia, constructed systems and construction, and industrial materials engineering. It also seeks to develop a basic engineering understanding of potentially destructive natural phenomena such as earthquakes, floods, sea level rise, greenhouse effects, expanding and collapsing soils, destructive winds, landslides, tsunamis, and storm surges, and techniques to mitigate their impacts on society. Support is given for research that will improve existing construction and industrial processes and create new technology in areas such as the formulation and processing of innovative engineering materials, improve the management of contaminant transport in geomedia, enhance the performance and service life of machines and equipment, improve the development of underground space, and create more efficient construction techniques for large-scale structures.
The Chemical and Transport Systems (CTS) Division funds research that contributes to the knowledge base of a large number of industrial manufacturing processes that involve the transformation and transport of matter and energy. The transformation process may be chemical, biological, physical, or a combination of these. The industrial processes involve a wide range of technological pursuits and are found in such industries or areas as aerospace, electronics, chemicals, recovery of natural resources, civil infrastructure, environment, petroleum, biochemicals, materials, food, power generation, and allied activities.
Support is given for research on the development of fundamental engineering principles, process control and optimization strategies, mathematical models, and experimental techniques, with an emphasis on those projects having the potential for innovation and broad application in areas such as environment, materials, and chemical processing. Special emphasis is on environmentally benign chemical and material processing.
The Division of Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation (DMII) has two goals.
The Electrical and Communications Systems (ECS) Division supports fundamental engineering research and educational activities in the conceptualization, analysis, design, and fabrication of materials, devices, systems, and phenomena that involve electrical, electronic, micro- electromechanical, and optical technologies. Also supported is research on analytical methods and computational algorithms for modeling, optimization, and control of engineering systems, including large-scale nonlinear systems. Emphasis is placed on creativity in approach as well as advancement of the field.
The Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division seeks to stimulate new paradigms in engineering research and education that will accelerate technological innovation and improve the quality and diversity of engineering graduates entering the technical workforce. To achieve its mission, the Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division forms partnerships across sectors. Disciplines are integrated to focus on technological systems, academe is linked with industry and the States, and diverse academic institutions are joined in curricular and educational innovations. The objective is to yield well-rounded, professionally oriented engineers with a global outlook and the ability to assume leadership roles in industry, academe, and society.
The most frequent recipients of support for research are academic institutions, although awards are occasionally made to profit-making organizations, individuals, and government agencies at all levels.
Most awards result from unsolicited research proposals, which should be prepared according to the guidelines set forth in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) (NSF 95-27). In addition to the proposal format described in the GPG, investigators should include a separate section that describes the impacts of the proposed research. This section should discuss potential new discoveries or advances that are expected as a result of the research and the specific contributions the proposed work will make toward expanding or developing the knowledge and technology base. Reviewers will be asked to provide specific comments on this aspect of the research, including the principal investigator's own assessment of the potential contributions. Proposers are also asked to comment on the results from their research previously funded by NSF (if applicable).
Deadlines and Target Dates
For regular research programs, submit proposals at any time. Those received too late for review in a particular fiscal year (which ends September 30) are considered in the following year if the program is continued. If a specific starting date for the project is important, clearly explain the circumstances and allow at least six months' lead time for review and processing.
For deadlines and target dates for the programs described above, refer to the NSF Bulletin, a monthly publication produced by the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Systems Analyst, Directorate for Engineering, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1300.
Bioengineering and Environmental Systems
The Bioengineering and Environmental Systems (BES) Division supports the following programs and activities.
Biochemical Engineering--Supports research and development of the traditional fermentation and recombinant DNA processes for manufacturing substances of biological origin. Projects are supported that utilize biological microorganisms for the transformation of organic, raw materials (biomass) into useful products, and for the process engineering of foods. Downstream processing is becoming increasingly important as new advances in separation and purification technologies accelerate. Process integration, optimization, and design utilizing advanced monitoring and control methods are also very important.
Biotechnology--Links the expertise of engineering with the life sciences in order to provide a fundamental basis for the economical manufacturing of substances of biological origin. Engineers working together with life scientists on group projects are supported by this part of the program. Synergy among the various disciplines in these types of projects is a very important evaluation criterion. Research areas include, but are not limited to, cell culture systems; bioreactor design; separation and purification processes; monitoring and control methods; and process integration, optimization, and design.
Biomedical Engineering--Supports fundamental engineering research that has the potential to contribute to improved health care and the reduction of health care costs. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, fundamental improvements in deriving information from cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems; extraction of useful information from complex biomedical signals; new approaches to the design of structures and materials for eventual medical use; and new methods for controlling living systems.
Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities--Is directed toward the characterization, restoration, and/or substitution of normal functions in humans. Emphasis is placed on the advancement of fundamental engineering knowledge rather than on product development. The program anticipates that the research will lead to the development of new technologies or the novel application of existing technologies. Undergraduate design projects are supported that provide prototype, "custom-designed" devices and software for persons with mental and/or physical disabilities.
Environmental Systems--Supports research with the objective of discovering and learning how to apply engineering principles to reduce adverse effects of solid, liquid, and gaseous discharges into land, water, and air that impair their resource values. This program also supports research on innovative biological, chemical, and physical processes used alone or as components of engineered systems to restore the usefulness of polluted land, water, and air resources.
Ocean Systems--Seeks to advance fundamental engineering knowledge of the ocean environment and foster technological innovations related to the conservation, development, and use of the oceans and their resources in an environmentally acceptable manner. Specific areas include fundamental research in advanced sea robotics and other instrumented and remotely operated systems.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 565, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1320.
Civil and Mechanical Systems
The Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS) Division supports the following programs and
Dynamic Systems and Control--Supports research on the dynamic behavior and control of machines, processes, structures, and other engineered physical systems. The primary emphasis is on the physical modeling of a variety of dynamic systems to improve the knowledge base for analyzing their performance and aspects of their control. Research topics include nonlinear dynamics theory, control of mechanical systems, acoustics and noise control, and machine dynamics. Much of the funded research in this program addresses significant gaps in, or extends the knowledge base of, these disciplines. Current interests focus on innovative real-time, sensor-based control of automated, flexible manufacturing systems.
Structures, Geomechanics, and Building Systems--Supports research on progressive analysis, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of safe, long-lived, efficient, environmentally acceptable, and economical civil infrastructure systems and facilities both above and below ground. It also supports research on understanding the science and technology of deteriorating infrastructure and actions that can be taken to diagnose, repair, remediate, retrofit, and enhance the performance of existing constructed facilities and to incorporate the knowledge gained in improving the performance of newly constructed materials and facilities.
Surface Engineering and Tribology--Supports research on the unique characteristics of surface, near-surface, and interface material as these characteristics affect the performance of mechanical components and structures subject to tribological conditions, mechanical and thermal stresses, and corrosion or environmental degradation. Also included is innovative research leading to new ways of generating or characterizing surfaces that are engineered for optimal topography and microstructure, leading in turn to improved tribological materials, lubricants, or coatings for operation under severe conditions. Modeling of tribosystems and the use of signals from tribological events for tribosensing and process control are also supported.
Mechanics and Materials--Supports research to develop scientific and engineering foundations for the design, mechanical response, and failure of all types of solids. Theoretical, experimental, and computational investigations of deformation, fatigue, and fracture behavior, and accounting for the underlying microstructural state and its origin, transformation, and evolution are emphasized. Current research areas include design and realization of new materials for mechanical performance; physical experiments on micro and macro scales; constitutive modeling for inelastic deformation and failure under multiaxial static and dynamic loadings; and modeling and computer simulation of thermomechanical aspects of materials processing and manufacturing.
Earthquake Hazard Mitigation--Conducts engineering and related research activities under four categories:
Basic science research in earthquake hazard mitigation is supported under the Earth Sciences Division in the Directorate for Geosciences. This program is part of the multiagency National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.
Natural and Technological Hazards Mitigation--Supports research activities that strengthen the knowledge base of the physical phenomena underlying natural hazards such as floods, droughts, tornadoes, and landslides, and the understanding of their interactions with and impact on populations, structures, buildings, and the natural environment.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 545, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1360.
Chemical and Transport Systems
The Division of Chemical and Transport Systems (CTS) supports the following programs and
Areas of Research
Projects should be aimed at gaining a basic understanding at the microscopic and macroscopic levels of thermal phenomena underlying the production of energy, synthesis and processing of materials, cooling and heating of equipment, and biological systems and the interaction of industrial processes with the environment. Higher priority will be given to those projects that deal with problems on the cutting edge of technology while developing human resources in engineering.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Chemical and Transport Systems, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 525, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1370.
Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation
The Division of Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation supports the following
programs and activities.
A program announcement for the MOTI Program is issued annually and describes research opportunities and areas of emphasis. To request a copy, contact the Program Manager, Division of Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 550, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1330.
Annual target dates for unsolicited proposals are April 1 and October 1 for all programs unless other program and initiative deadlines are published.
Annual solicitations are made by the SBIR and STTR Programs and are widely publicized by the Small Business Administration. They are also announced in the Commerce Business Daily and sent to those on NSF's small business mailing list. Solicitations list specific deadlines for proposals.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 550, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1330.
To request the latest SBIR solicitation, contact the Program Manager, Small Business Innovation Research, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1391.
Electrical and Communications Systems
The Electrical and Communications Systems (ECS) Division supports research through the
following programs and activities.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Electrical and Communications Systems, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 675, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1339.
Engineering Education and Centers
Research in the Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) Division is supported through the
following programs and activities.
The successful I/UCRC Program model has been extended to encompass a new type of center, the State/Industry University Cooperative Research Centers (S/IUCRCs). These centers are focused more actively on State or regional local economic development and are initiated at the State level with industrial support. They compete for NSF support in an announced competition. This new model extends the I/UCRC model to focus on more active means of technology transfer, which can include experimentation with testbeds, hands-on teaching of new concepts to upgrade small business, etc. These centers also may extend their work to include proprietary projects designed to speed development with the support of industry and the State.
The Engineering Education Coalitions share the following common program-level goals:
Additional funds in excess of $5,000 may be requested, if necessary, to provide special equipment, modify equipment, or provide other services required specifically for participation of persons with disabilities. The equipment must be specifically related to the research work, such as prosthetic devices to manipulate a specific piece of equipment, and not for general assistance such as wheelchairs or ramps.
Program announcements are available for each of the programs above. Refer to the NSF Bulletin, a monthly publication produced by the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, for deadlines and target dates.
For More Information
For further information, contact the Division of Engineering Education and Centers, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 585, Arlington, Virginia 22230, (703) 306-1380.