Dear Colleague Letter: Ocean Technical Workforce Education

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

March 14, 2022

Dear Colleague:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) anticipates increased investments in future ocean observing systems, including cabled and moored instrumentation systems, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and remotely operated vehicles (ROV). Development of new instrumentation, maintenance of equipment related to ocean observing systems, and data management efforts to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data and the analysis of large data sets generated by these systems all require a workforce with specialized training in ocean sciences, engineering, manufacturing, and data science. Therefore, the Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC), Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET), the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), and the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) are encouraging proposals to develop the workforce required to support current and future ocean technologies.

This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) encourages proposals within two categories: 1) Curriculum Development proposals and 2) Student Engagement proposals.  Proposal submissions for either category must respond to the existing funding opportunities listed below. The goal of the DCL is to expand technical capacity in the U.S. workforce in high-technology fields through training programs that educate the next generation of ocean technicians, data scientists, ocean engineers, and ocean scientists. Proposal topics of high priority include training in ocean instrumentation design, manufacturing and maintenance of marine-related hardware, and ocean data science and data analytics, with an emphasis on the inclusion of researchers, engineers and students from groups that are underrepresented in the marine science and mariner communities. Submissions are encouraged that target documented gaps in the U.S. technical workforce in marine instrumentation and manufacturing sectors, including those related to renewable energy, such as wave, tide, wind, and solar energy systems.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT: The goal is to develop academic programs with hands-on opportunities for trainees that open career paths in ocean sensor instrumentation development, manufacturing and maintenance, renewable energy systems and data science. Proposals need to address how new course curricula, teaching modules and other products will be sustained beyond the duration of the award.

STUDENT ENGAGEMENT: The goal is to engage undergraduates, graduate students, teachers, and veterans in programs that provide training and hands-on experience with ocean technologies, ocean data science, and ocean engineering. Supplements to existing awards to support individual students will be accepted and should be discussed with the cognizant Program Officer before developing and submitting the request for supplemental funding. Proposals to support cohorts of students may be submitted via the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences (GeoPATHS) programs. Proposals that involve community colleges, Minority Serving Institutions, and/or institutions that serve veterans, first-generation students, students with different abilities, or other students from groups underrepresented in ocean sciences are encouraged.

Proposers are encouraged to contact the program officers prior to submitting proposals or requests for supplemental funding. 




Curriculum Development
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences