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News Release 15-066

NSF awards $12 million to spur an engineering education revolution

Six departments receive funding to redesign undergraduate engineering and computer science education

Student working on a circuit board

The RED projects will build on successful innovations in the introductory and capstone years.

June 15, 2015

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Updated July 13, 2016 to include 2016 awards

To solve 21st century technological challenges, society will rely upon today's undergraduate engineering and computer science programs and their ability to prepare diverse communities of students with professional skills.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and Education and Human Resources have jointly awarded $12 million to engineering and computer science departments to enact groundbreaking, scalable and sustainable changes in undergraduate education.

The engineering and computer science professions have a large potential to address national priorities and societal grand challenges," said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering. "To flourish in the future, engineering and computer science must attract and retain people from all sectors of society."

These five-year, $2 million awards are part of NSF's multiyear effort to help universities substantially improve the professional formation of engineers and computer scientists--the formal and informal processes and value systems by which people become experts in these fields. A key component is support for revolutionizing engineering departments, an NSF activity known as RED.

"An underlying premise of RED is that department heads can be critical levers for change," said Donna Riley, NSF program director for engineering education research. "RED focuses on transforming department structure and faculty reward systems to stimulate comprehensive change in policies, practices and curricula."

The RED projects will build upon successful innovations in the introductory and capstone years to improve the entire undergraduate experience, including technical core courses during sophomore and junior years, extracurricular professional activities and student transfer from two- to four-year institutions. The awards also may support faculty development, faculty incentives and inclusive academic cultures.

The RED investment aligns with the NSF-wide undergraduate STEM education initiative, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE).

NSF made six RED awards in fiscal year 2015:

In fiscal year 2016, NSF made seven additional RED awards totaling $14 million:

The teams will share ideas, learn from the first group of awardees, and begin to be part of the RED community at an NSF meeting for RED principal investigators July 12-13, 2016.

NSF plans to call for proposals for RED again in FY 2017.


Media Contacts
Sarah Bates, NSF, (703) 292-7738, email:

Program Contacts
Donna M. Riley, NSF, (703) 292-7107, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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