(OPEN) Limited Submission: IUSE / Professional Formation of Engineers: Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED)

Summary

Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (hereinafter referred to as RED) is designed to build upon previous efforts in engineering education research. Specifically, previous and ongoing evaluations of the NSF Engineering Education and Centers Division program and its predecessors, as well as those related programs in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources, have shown that prior investments have significantly improved the first year of engineering students’ experiences, incorporating engineering material, active learning approaches, design instruction, and a broad introduction to professional skills and a sense of professional practice – giving students an idea of what it means to become an engineer. Similarly, the senior year has seen notable change through capstone design experiences, which ask students to synthesize the technical knowledge, skills, and abilities they have gained with professional capacities, using reflective judgment to make decisions and communicate these effectively. However, this ideal of the senior year has not yet been fully realized, because many of the competencies required in capstone design, or required of professional engineers, are only partially introduced in the first year and not carried forward with significant emphasis through the sophomore and junior years.

The Directorates for Engineering (ENG), Education and Human Resources (EHR), and Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) have funded projects as part of the RED program, in alignment with the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) framework and Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) initiative. These projects are designing revolutionary new approaches to engineering and computer science education, ranging from changing the canon of engineering to fundamentally altering the way courses are structured to creating new departmental structures and educational collaborations with industry. A common thread across these projects is a focus on organizational and cultural change within the departments, involving students, faculty, staff, and industry in rethinking what it means to provide an engineering program.

In order to continue to catalyze revolutionary approaches, while expanding the reach of those that have proved efficacious in particular contexts, the RED program supports two tracks: RED Innovation and RED Adaptation and Implementation (RED-A&I). RED Innovation projects will develop new, revolutionary approaches and change strategies that enable the transformation of undergraduate engineering education. RED Adaptation and Implementation projects will adapt and implement evidence-based organizational change strategies and actions to the local context, which helps propagate this transformation of undergraduate engineering education. Projects in both tracks will include consideration of the cultural, organizational, structural, and pedagogical changes needed to transform the department to one in which students are engaged, develop their technical and professional skills, and establish identities as professional engineers. The focus of projects in both tracks should be on the department’s disciplinary courses and program.

Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.

Award Amount
  • Estimated Number of Awards: 4 to 6

2-3 RED Innovation awards and 2-3 RED-A&I awards depending on funding availability and quality of proposals received.

  • Anticipated Funding Amount: $4,000,000 to $8,000,000

Estimated program budget and number of awards are subject to the availability of funds.

Eligibility

For both tracks, the Principal Investigator must be a department chair/head (or equivalent) to provide leadership for the change process. Additionally, there must be a RED team that includes (at a minimum) an expert in engineering education research who can provide guidance on evidence-based practices, and an organizational change expert who can advise on strategies for developing a culture of change and on strategies for creating meaningful collective ownership of the effort among faculty, students, and staff. The engineering education and organizational change experts may be at different institutions from the proposing institution. Funding for these experts at other institutions may be supported as consultants, through a sub-award, or through a separately submitted collaborative proposal.

Selection Criteria
  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  1. What is the potential for the proposed activity to
    1. Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
    2. Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  2. To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

  • Vision: How revolutionary is the vision in light of a well-grounded understanding of the history, context, and culture of the department? Revolutionary means radically, suddenly, or completely new; producing fundamental, structural change; or going outside of or beyond existing norms and principles.
  • PI Team: Is the RED team complete, with all required expertise? Is each member fully qualified to perform the proposed work?
  • Institutional Commitment: Do the letter(s) of commitment provide evidence of support for the project sufficient to achieve the goals and objectives?
  • Connection to Professional Practice: Is there a sufficient connection in the proposed project to professional practice? For example, what is the extent of involvement of the external advisory board, and how has the department involved professors of practice, a professional master’s program, or other elements that bridge the gap between education and professional practice?
  • Faculty Development Plan: Is faculty development well planned and properly incentivized to build department cultures that support the holistic professional formation of engineers?
  • Potential for Success and Sustainability: How achievable and significant are the proposed changes in the middle two years of the technical core? How responsive are the changes to the call to focus on professional skills? Reviewers will take into account justification of the research plan or the adaptation using the literature, comprehensiveness of the plan, institutional leadership commitments, sustainability of change (including leadership changes and financial sustainability). For RED Innovation projects, reviewers will take into account the justification for the theory of change and the propagation roadmap/transferability of change strategies. For RED-A&I, reviewers will take into account the appropriateness and reach of the dissemination plan.
  • Connection to Research on Engineering Education: How well-informed are the vision and execution plan by the literature and prior attempts, if applicable, to implement change? Is the expectation of success well justified?
  • Adaptation and Scaling: How likely is the new knowledge generated about changing department culture to be received and utilized by others? How well-conceived are the plans for accomplishing this goal?
Limitation Details

An Institution may submit 2 proposals (i.e. 2 Innovation Track, 2 A&I Track, or 1 Innovation and 1 A&I).

If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to limsub@uga.edu according to the required instructions below.

Internal Applications must include the following:
  • A cover page listing
    • The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
    • Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
    • Collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
    • Indicate whether or not you have submitted to this program in the past. If so, please provide a copy of the review at the end of the internal application.
  • A (maximum two-page) proposal summary that addresses the program’s specific selection criteria.
  • One paragraph describing why this proposal should be UGA’s submission (i.e., why it will be the most competitive for this program)
  • Curriculum vitae
Internal Selection

Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals.  UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward.  Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria.

Internal Submission Instructions

The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to limsub@uga.edu by the internal deadline listed above.

Questions?

Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to limsub@uga.edu.

For questions directly related to this program, please contact the following program officers:


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