ENGINEERING                                                                                                      $378,530,000



The FY 2000 Budget Request for Engineering is $378.53 million, an increase of $9.98 million, or 2.7 percent, over the FY 1999 Current Plan of $368.55 million.


(Millions of Dollars)


The Engineering Activity (ENG) supports research that is fundamental to the engineering process.  Such research seeks to develop a deep understanding of engineering systems, devices, and materials, and the processes and methodologies that underpin them.  Over the long term, ENG investments contribute to a U.S. technological innovation system that enables the creation of valuable new products, new services, and new and more productive enterprises that enhance the Nation’s future economic strength, security, and quality of life.


A large fraction of ENG’s funds are invested in investigator-initiated research, much of which exploits opportunities in areas related to three major transcendent technologies of our time: microchip technology, information technology and biotechnology. ENG’s investment in these technologies can be expected to enable significant advances in areas such as healthcare, manufacturing, education, and commercial services.  ENG invests a smaller but significant portion of its budget in selected targets of opportunity, particularly in areas where these three technology streams converge. For example, in FY 1999 ENG launched the Engineering Microsystems: XYZ on a Chip initiative, which encourages the development of novel applications and exploration of non-electrical processes at the micro-scale. An example of work supported in this area involves the development of a retinal “microchip” prosthesis that may, within the next few years, be able to provide artificial vision to blind people who are afflicted by retinal diseases.


ENG investments help develop the next generation engineering and technological workforce. Significant education and training opportunities are provided to engineering students through research grants to U.S. universities and colleges.  ENG also invests in focused human resources development and education activities through programs designed to increase the knowledge and skill base of future engineers. Two crosscutting strategies of these programs are to increase the diversity of the engineering workforce, and to promote the natural connections between learning and discovery.


Overall, NSF provides about 33 percent of the total Federal support for fundamental engineering research and education at U.S. universities and colleges.  This sustained investment is significant, and over time will lead to better-trained and educated engineers, new and emerging industrial technologies, and a more diverse and robust engineering community.


In FY 2000, ENG will provide support for research and education efforts related to three broad, Foundation-wide efforts: Biocomplexity in the Environment, Information Technologies, and Educating for the Future.


Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE): ENG will provide $49.80 million for BE.  This is an increase of $2.5 million over the FY 1999 level of $47.30 million for activities formerly known as Life and Earth’s Environment.  Highlights include: 


·          Biodiversity and Ecosystems Dynamics: a total of $9.6 million will support research in environmental bioengineering, life in extreme environments, water and watersheds, industrial ecology, and a new thrust in Exploratory Research on Biosystems at the Nano-scale.


·          Environment and the Human Dimension: a total of $40.2 million will support research in natural hazard mitigation, environmental technology, and management of environmental resources and systems. Materials and manufacturing processes that avoid pollution will be stressed, such as environmentally benign materials synthesis and processing.


Information Technologies (IT): ENG will provide $48.60 million for information based activities.  This is an increase of $9.5 million over the FY 1999 level of $39.10 million for activities grouped under the title Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence.  Highlights include: expanded research on Wireless Technology and Information Networks, and a new research initiative, Scalable Enterprise Systems, which will support creation of a science base for enterprise-wide business automation.  Applications for high-end computing in scalable, shared problem solving environments will also be expanded.


Educating for the Future (EFF): ENG supports a range of programs that encourage innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of educating students for the 21st century.  A total of $70.24 million, a decrease of $4.50 million, will support programs including: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT), and Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER). The FY 2000 request reflects the planned phase out of the existing Engineering Education Coalitions.  Special attention will be given to institutionalizing successful educational innovations that have resulted from this investment.


In FY 2000, ENG will continue its efforts to address Foundation-wide concerns about grant sizes by increasing the average size and duration of the awards and providing more support for researchers.  In accord with the Foundation's FY 2000 performance Plan, ENG will continue to provide increased attention to the percentage of competitive research grants going to new investigators.  These efforts will contribute to increasing the efficiency of the foundation's merit review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and the university community.



Key Program Functions


ENG supports its ongoing and new activities through the following key program functions:


(Millions of Dollars)

1Includes only costs charged to the R&RA Appropriation.


Research Project Support


In FY 2000, Research Project Support increases by $15.02 million to $345.45 million. This increase, together with a redirection of existing resources, enables ENG to strengthen its strategy of exploiting expanding research opportunities in information technology, biotechnology, and microchip technology. The redistribution of available resources will be accomplished through targeted reductions within existing mature research activities that are expected to be less promising in the future, and the planned phase out of some of the engineering education coalitions.


In implementing this strategy, ENG will double support for the following cross-disciplinary research topics, to about $35 million. Each of these topics will receive $7-10 million, depending upon the quality of the proposals received.


·         Engineering Microsystems: "XYZ on a Chip":  Research on this topic, initiated in FY 1999, will be expanded. The initiative is intended to extend the technology of microelectronics beyond computer chips and microelectrical mechanical systems (MEMS) to encompass non-electrical applications, such as chemical synthesis and processing on-a-chip or  bioprocessing on-a-chip. Small, self-contained microsystems which combine chemical, biological, mechanical and electrical processes will have a wide variety of practical applications, such as implanted medical devices which combine sensing with controlled release of medicines.


·          Scalable Enterprise Systems: This new initiative will support research that creates a science base for enterprise-wide automation software that integrates the full range of business activities, including financial management, human resources, and sales and marketing functions as well as manufacturing. The goal is to develop automated systems that work well regardless of the number of users or the size of the enterprise (i.e. are "scalable"). The focus of this research will be on systems that can be deployed and used via the Internet to address the complexity and global scope of today's businesses.


·         Exploratory Research on Biosystems at the Nano-scale:  This topic focuses research on merging nanotechnology and biotechnology.  Research will be directed at biologically based or inspired systems that exhibit novel properties and potential applications that are directly related to the nano-scale (molecular to supramolecular scale) of operation.  Examples include: (1) controlled drug or gene delivery to specific body sites due to their nano-scale size or surface nano-scale recognition sites; (2) novel phenomena, structures and devices based on nano-scale biosystems, such as photoelectric cells using plant photosynthesis sites; (3) nano-scale biosensors for directly measuring cellular or human physiological processes, such as protein generation within a cell or cellular metabolism kinetics.  Far-reaching exploratory topics, such as self-replication and self-learning systems will be encouraged.


·         Wireless Technology and Information Networks: Research on this topic, initiated in FY 1999, will be expanded.  It supports fundamental research and educational activities that will enable the next generation of wireless technologies and support its successful implementation in a wide variety of applications in information networking. The focus will be on the interface between the physical devices used in wireless networks and the algorithms and techniques employed by those devices. Paradigm shifts in the development of new communication protocols, modulation schemes, error control codes, and the design of low-energy/low-cost and highly reliable transmitting and receiving devices are expected to result from these activities.


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which will increase by $3.02 million to $59.85 million, provides funding at the mandated level of at least 2.5 percent of extramural research, as required by P.L. 102-564. The program emphasizes commercialization of research results at small business enterprises through the support of high quality research across the entire spectrum of NSF disciplines. Recent improvements to the SBIR program include: redefinition of research topics to address significant technologies and more emphasis on “commercialization potential” in the SBIR review process.


In FY 2000, ENG will provide $3.0 million, the same level as FY 1999, for the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which partners small businesses with academic institutions to promote industrial innovation.


Total ENG support for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction program (NEHRP) is $19.0 million, including support for fundamental research that leads to more earthquake-resistant buildings and facilities.   Foundationwide, support for NEHRP in FY 2000 is $37.60 million, including $10.90 million in the Geosciences Activity and $7.70 million in the Major Research Equipment Account.


Research Project Support also includes funding for university-based centers.  These centers share several important characteristics: a unifying cross-disciplinary and systems-oriented focus on complex engineering problems, an emphasis on partnerships and knowledge transfer linkages with industry, and significant educational and outreach programs aimed at integrating education and research.  They provide an infrastructure that underpins each of the cutting edge technologies cited above as well as many others.


(Millions of Dollars)


The FY 2000 Budget Request includes:


·         A total of $60.0 million, an increase of $5.8 million over FY 1999, to support a steady state of 22-25 university-based Engineering Research Centers (ERC). The increase will enable three new focused centers to be established.  One will be focused on Engineering Microsystems: "XYZ on a Chip", the second on Scalable Enterprise Systems, and a third on advanced information and learning technologies for engineering education.  In addition, as support for some mature centers is phased out, up to six new ERCs will be established in topics generated by industry and academe. NSF provides about 30 percent of the total support to the centers, with the other support coming from industry, other Federal agencies, the universities, and the states.


·         $5.19 million, a $200,000 increase, for the traditional Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) and $0.90 million for the State I/UCRCs, a planned decrease of $900,000.  The I/UCRC program as a whole will support about 55 traditional I/UCRCs and three State I/UCRCs. It will enable the support of more multi-university I/UCRCs, and several competitive supplements to strengthen the base of longer-term, exploratory research in these centers. These highly leveraged centers form close-knit partnerships with their industrial members.


·         $6.0 million to support three earthquake engineering research centers at $2.0 million per year each to: provide knowledge to mitigate damage to the built environment; provide outreach to the private, educational and government sectors; and educate professionals for cross-disciplinary careers.

Research Facilities


Within the Major Research Equipment (MRE) account, $7.70 million has been requested to initiate the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), a project to construct, upgrade, and network and integrate a complete system of test facilities in earthquake engineering.  Oversight of this project will be provided through the Civil and Mechanical Systems Subactivity.


ENG continues to coordinate NSF support for the National Nanofabrication Users Network (NNUN), a network of five university user facilities that offer advanced nano- and micro-fabrication capabilities to researchers in all fields.  In FY 2000 ENG will provide $2.80 million to the NNUN, the same level as in FY 1999. The NNUN has had a significant impact on the quantity and quality of research in micro- and nanostructures, serving users from 29 states and seven foreign countries.  Over 600 projects and over 1000 users have benefited from the use of NNUN facilities in the past three and a half years.  Hundreds of graduate students and dozens of undergraduate students have had opportunities to work in the state-of-the-art facilities gaining invaluable research and undergraduate research experience.  Support is also provided by the Biological Sciences and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Activities.


The NNUN is part of an overall thrust in nanotechnology that focuses research on the control of properties at the atomic/molecular level, their assembly into nanostructured materials, and utilizing the improved materials as building blocks for engineering applications, such as thin films and coatings, advanced chemical catalysts, artificial biomaterials, and novel optoelectronic devices. 


Education and Training


ENG invests in engineering education and training through focused programs designed to increase the knowledge and skill base of future engineers and to promote the natural connections between learning and discovery. The portfolio of activities supporting this goal span the entire human resources pipeline, including K-12 education, advanced technological education, undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral education, and lifelong learning. The purpose is to produce engineering graduates who will be leaders in currently emerging technology areas and position these graduates to push the frontiers of technology.


(Millions of Dollars)



The FY 2000 request for Education and Training is $25.24 million, decreased by $5.10 million from FY 1999.  It provides support for the following activities:


·         $700,000 to support an effort for graduate students at engineering centers and other institutions to serve as mentors to students, teacher aids, and to contribute to K-12 schools in other capacities.


·         $19.14 million, a decrease of $5.80 million, to support innovations in undergraduate engineering education. The FY 2000 request reflects the planned phase out of the existing Engineering Education Coalitions; support for one will be terminated and support to the remaining four coalitions will be decreased as they approach the end of their NSF awards.  Special attention will be given to institutionalizing successful educational innovations that have resulted from this investment. Smaller scale projects to integrate advanced technology research into the curriculum will also be supported.

·         $5.40 million for graduate fellowships and traineeships, including $2.0 million, an increase of $300,000, to support the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Program; and $2.80 million, unchanged from FY 1999, to provide fellowships for women graduate students, to pursue doctoral studies in engineering. 


Administration and Management


The Administration and Management key program function includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments, contractors performing administrative functions and, in FY 2000, award- related travel.


Number of People Involved in ENG Activities




ENG Funding Profile