NSF Engineering boosts 146 early-career researchers with awards totaling $73M
Over the next five years, 146 early-career engineering faculty will have the freedom to explore important fundamental research questions about engineering, due to support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Engineering.
The creative work of these scholar-teachers will open new frontiers of knowledge in a wide range of engineering fields and address pressing questions of great societal importance in manufacturing, health, energy, environment, infrastructure and education.
This amazing range of inquiry is enabled by funding from NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program. Begun in 1995, the CAREER program provides promising junior faculty the opportunity to pursue outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Each CAREER award from the NSF Directorate for Engineering provides a minimum of $500,000 over five years, a 25-percent increase over the previous award limit. This year’s awards total approximately $73 million.
“NSF Engineering’s investment in CAREER awards demonstrates our unwavering and enthusiastic commitment to supporting the next generation of engineering faculty across the country,” said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering.
Meet the up-and-comers
This year’s Engineering CAREER awardees will investigate fresh approaches to fundamental research challenges.
“Engineering seeks to fund the most promising and creative ideas for its CAREER awards, so we encourage groundbreaking, bold proposals from a diverse array of junior faculty spanning the entire range of engineering fields,” Khargonekar said.
For FY 2015, NSF Engineering granted 146 CAREER awards to 81 institutions in 36 states, ranging from Alaska to Colorado to Pennsylvania, including 16 states participating in NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
Principal investigators of these awards are 29 percent women and 9 percent under-represented minorities, according to available demographic data. These percentages are several points higher than for U.S. engineering faculty overall.
In addition, NSF granted 51 percent of the Engineering CAREER awards to new principal investigators.
“While receiving an NSF CAREER award is a distinction in itself, the full value of the awards will appear during the next five years and over the course of their careers,” Khargonekar said. “We anticipate with excitement that this new class of CAREER grantees will make pioneering discoveries and inspire young minds to advance the engineering enterprise and improve the lives of all Americans.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2017, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.
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