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Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation

Structural and Architectural Engineering and Materials  (SAEM)

Name Email Phone Room
Yick  G. Hsuan (703)292-2241   


PD 17-1637

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




The overall goal of the Structural and Architectural Engineering and Materials (SAEM) program is to enable sustainable buildings and other structures that can be continuously occupied and/or operated during the structure’s useful life. The SAEM program supports fundamental research for advancing knowledge and innovation in structural and architectural engineering and materials that promotes a holistic approach to analysis and design, construction, operation, maintenance, retrofit, and repair of structures. For buildings, all components including the foundation-structure-envelope (the façade, curtain-wall, windows, and roofing) and interior systems (flooring, ceilings, partitions walls), are of interest to the program. The SAEM program encourages the integration of research with knowledge dissemination and activities that can lead to broader societal benefit for provision of sustainable structures.

Research in new engineering concepts and design paradigms for buildings that have significantly reduced dependence and interdependence on municipal infrastructure through, for example, building components that can aid in minimizing fresh water consumption or can promote self-heating-cooling-ventilating, is encouraged. In addition, the program targets research in building systems that can be reconfigurable for rapid construction, deconstruction, and disassembly; repurposing; and reliable and resilient.

Research topics of interest for sustainable structures include the following:

·       Strategies for structures that over their lifecycle are cost-effective and efficiently use  resources and energy through incorporating sustainable structural and architectural  materials and systems;

·       Mitigation of material and structural deterioration due to fatigue, chemical interactions, and environmental factors (such as temperature, sunlight, water and moisture);

·       Advancement in physics-based computational modeling and simulation to aid in the design of multifunctional materials and systems in buildings, and to characterize the performance of sustainable buildings under service environments.

Within this programmatic focus, materials research of interest includes fundamental investigations into new sustainable structural and architectural materials that are multifunctional and integral to lifetime serviceability of the structure, and extend beyond conventional uses of mature or current infrastructure construction materials such as concrete, steel, and masonry. Examples of research priorities are fundamental studies of biological and bio-inspired materials and systems, materials produced from waste and recycled materials and/or are easily recyclable, materials with low embedded carbon footprints, and smart materials and systems that change properties in responding to ambient environmental changes.

Parametric studies of commonly used construction materials are not appropriate for this or other CMMI programs. Materials research not specifically related to civil infrastructure should be submitted to the Materials Engineering and Processing (MEP) Program in CMMI or the Division of Materials Research in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate.

Research is encouraged that integrates discoveries from other science and engineering fields, such as materials science, building science, mechanics of materials, dynamic systems and control, reliability, risk analysis, architecture, economics and human factors. The program also supports research in sustainable foundation-structure-envelope-nonstructural systems and materials as described in the following report:

National Science and Technology Council, High Performance Buildings; Final Report: Federal R & D Agenda for Net Zero Energy, High-Performance Green Buildings. Building Technology Research and Development (BTRD) Subcommittee, OSTP, U.S. Government, September 2008.

Sensors or sensing systems used for structural health monitoring and building environments must emphasize decision-making systems; however, research for new sensor and sensing technologies and data collection should be submitted to other programs. Proposals that focus on the performance and mitigation of structures subjected to natural hazards, such as earthquakes, windstorms (tornadoes and hurricanes), tsunamis, and landslides, should be submitted to the Engineering for Natural Hazards (ENH) Program. Research addressing blast loads and fire effects on materials and building systems and data-enabled science and engineering are not supported by SAEM. Research on pavement materials, bridge materials and structures, and nuclear power plant and wind energy infrastructure and materials is not supported by this program.

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program