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Addressing Systems Challenges through Engineering Teams  (ASCENT)

Name Email Phone Room
Paul  A. Lane (703) 292-2453   
Jenshan  Lin (703) 292-7950   
Anil  Pahwa (703) 292-2285   


Solicitation  20-511

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 Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems Division (ECCS) supports enabling and transformative engineering research at the nano, micro, and macro scales that fuels progress in engineering system applications with high societal impact. This includes fundamental engineering research underlying advanced devices and components and their seamless penetration in power, controls, networking, communications or cyber systems. The research is envisioned to be empowered by cutting-edge computation, synthesis, evaluation, and analysis technologies and is to result in significant impact for a variety of application domains in healthcare, homeland security, disaster mitigation, telecommunications, energy, environment, transportation, manufacturing, and other systems-related areas. ECCS also supports new and emerging research areas encompassing 5G and Beyond Spectrum and Wireless Technologies, Quantum Information Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data.

ECCS, through its ASCENT program, offers its engineering community the opportunity to address research issues and answer engineering challenges associated with complex systems and networks that are not achievable by a single principal investigator or by short-term projects and can only be achieved by interdisciplinary research teams. ECCS envisions a connected portfolio of transformative and integrative projects that create synergistic links by investigators across its three ECCS clusters: Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (CCSS), Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices (EPMD), and Energy, Power, Control, and Networks (EPCN), yielding novel ways of addressing challenges of engineering systems and networks. ECCS seeks proposals that are bold and ground-breaking, transcend the perspectives and approaches typical of disciplinary research efforts, and lead to disruptive technologies and methods or enable significant improvement in quality of life. 

  • ASCENT supports fundamental research projects involving at least three collaborating PIs and co-PIs, up to four years in duration, with a total budget between $1 million and $1.5 million.
  • ASCENT proposals must highlight the engineering leadership focus of the proposal within the scope of ECCS programs.
  • ASCENT proposals must articulate a fundamental research problem with compelling intellectual challenge and significant societal impact. The topic at the heart of the proposal must lie within the scope of at least one of the three ECCS clusters (CCSS, EPMD, EPCN). Research proposals spanning multiple clusters are highly encouraged.
  • ASCENT proposals must demonstrate the need for a concerted research effort by an integrated and interdisciplinary team, and strongly justify the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed work. They should include a timeline for research activities, with a strong justification of the explicit mechanisms for frequent communication between team members and effective assessment to achieve proposed goals.


The Project Description must contain, as a separate section of less than a page, labeled "Addressing ASCENT Solicitation Specific Review Criteria". This section should provide a description of how the ASCENT solicitation specific review criteria are addressed in the proposal and include references to other relevant sections in the proposal for additional details. Proposals not meeting this requirement will be returned without review.

Supplementary Documents: Supplementary documents are limited to the specific types of documents listed in the PAPPG, with the following exception:

Research Integration Plan. A Research Integration Plan is required for all projects. The Research Integration Plan must be submitted as a Supplementary Document and may not exceed two pages. Proposals that fail to submit a Research Integration Plan will be returned without review. The Research Integration Plan must be labeled “Research Integration Plan” and must provide a detailed approach for the creation of new knowledge through the rigorous integration of disciplinary knowledge spanning disparate engineering and scientific disciplines. The plan should list the key disciplines needed to achieve the objectives of the proposed research, explain the role of each and why it is necessary, identify the PI or co-PIs who represent each discipline as experts, outline the approach to the integration of these disciplines, and suggest the advance in knowledge that their integration will provide.

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

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program