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Directorate for Engineering
Division of Engineering Education and Centers

The Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) supports centers that collaborate with industry to integrate research, education, and projects to promote innovations in engineering education and engage a diverse body of students in engineering research. These efforts integrate new knowledge across disciplines, accelerate technology development, and improve the capabilities and diversity of engineering graduates entering the technical workforce.

EEC's centers promote partnerships among researchers in different disciplines and between industry and universities. They focus on integrated engineered systems and produce technological innovations that strengthen the competitive position of industry. Their graduates are well-rounded, professionally oriented engineers with a global outlook, experience in technological innovation, and the ability to assume leadership roles in industry, academe, and government.

The educational innovation projects of EEC range from small-scale efforts that integrate research into curricula at the course level to the development and implementation of large-scale models for engineering curriculum reform. These efforts have infused knowledge of emerging technology into curriculums across the country and have provided models for systemic reform of engineering curriculum that have included freshman-year experience with design and product development. All efforts promote the diversity of the engineering workforce.

1. Engineering Research Centers (ERCs)

Provide an integrated environment for academe and industry to focus on next-generation advances in complex engineered systems, with synergy among engineering, science, and industrial practices. ERCs integrate research and education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels and produce curriculum innovations derived from the engineering systems research focus of the ERC. ERCs build partnerships with industry, develop shared infrastructure, and increase the capacity of engineering and science graduates to contribute to U.S. competitiveness. They are supported for up to 10 years to promote the long-term perspective in engineering research and education that is required to produce new technologies and innovative products and services.

2. Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRCs)

Develop long-term partnerships among industry, academe, and government. The centers are university-based and catalyzed by a small investment from NSF but are primarily supported by industry members. I/UCRCs are led by faculty who have a strong desire to work with industry and who want to pursue fundamental research agendas recommended by industrial advisory boards. Center research projects are conducted primarily by graduate students; the program thus develops students who know how to conduct industrially relevant research and communicate their findings effectively.

3. Engineering Education Programs

Stimulates innovation and reform in engineering education to produce graduates who are better able to serve the evolving needs of the new century. A high priority is developing high-quality engineering curriculums that will attract and retain increased numbers of engineering students, especially women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities. The Engineering Education Programs support the implementation of new approaches to educate engineers and encourage outstanding students—particularly from underrepresented groups—to enter the field. The programs build on successful innovations from the NSF Engineering Education Coalitions and other new concepts for the reform and improvement of engineering education, and seek to involve research-active scholars more actively in education innovation.

EEC supports programs through which new faculty can learn from successful scholars and practitioners in such areas as learning theories, course and curriculum design, test construction and evaluation, multimedia technologies, student mentoring, diversity, and leadership.

4. Grants for Department-Level Reform of Undergraduate Engineering Education

Supports departmental and larger units to reformulate, streamline, and update engineering and engineering technology degree programs; develop new curriculums for emerging engineering disciplines; and meet the emerging workforce and educational needs of U.S. industry. These efforts should increase the relevance of undergraduate engineering curriculum to modern engineering practice and induce an increased proportion of students who enroll to complete engineering degree programs. These goals can be accomplished by introducing modern learning strategies, expanding both the disciplinary breadth and the range of problems and problem-solving techniques to which engineering students are exposed; incorporating new laboratories and research experiences; and effectively integrating the powerful software tools used in engineering practice.

5. Supplemental Funding for Support of Women, Minorities, and Physically Disabled Engineering Research Assistants

Provides supplemental funding to include women, underrepresented minorities, and physically disabled undergraduate or high school students as research assistants on NSF-funded projects. Supplemental funding of up to $5,000, including indirect costs, may be requested for each student added to the project. Funds provided by this program are limited to two students per grant. Up to 10 percent of this amount may be used for supplies and services. The support may be used for a summer, a quarter, or an academic year.

If necessary, funds in excess of $5,000 may be requested to provide special equipment or modify existing equipment, or to provide other services specifically for the purpose of enabling a physically disabled person (or persons) to participate. The equipment must be directly related to the research work, such as a prosthetic device to manipulate a specific piece of equipment, not for general assistance such as wheelchairs or ramps.

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