Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/8/2024

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

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 for STEM Education, 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) and STEM Education (EDU) are funding 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 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 four tracks: RED Planning (Track 1), RED Adaptation and Implementation (Track 2), RED Innovation (Track 3), and RED Innovation Partnerships (Track 4). Two- and four-year institutions are encouraged to submit to any track as appropriate for their goals and context.

RED Planning (Track 1) projects will support capacity-building activities at institutions of special interest to NSF’s mission, specifically two-year engineering-centered programs building transfer partnerships, two-year or four-year institutions in EPSCoR jurisdictions, Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) seeking to level the number of degrees across of the full spectrum of diverse talent in engineering. Planning projects should provide the support for such institutions to explore the development of a RED Projects in Tracks 2, 3, & 4.

RED Adaptation and Implementation (Track 2) 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.

RED Innovation (Track 3) projects will develop new, revolutionary approaches and change strategies that enable the transformation of undergraduate engineering education.

RED Innovation Partnerships (Track 4) projects will achieve the same goals as Track 3 projects across multiple institutions. Of particular interest to this track are projects partnering two-year institutions with other eligible institutions.

Projects in tracks 2, 3, & 4 will include consideration of the cultural, organizational, structural, and pedagogical changes needed to transform one or more departments to ones in which students are engaged, develop their technical and professional skills, and establish identities as professional engineers or technologists. The focus of projects in these tracks should be on the department’s disciplinary courses and program. RED project initiatives are expected to be institutionalized at the end of the funding period.

Proposals are especially encouraged that address areas of increased national interest including but not limited to advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, microelectronics and semiconductors, net zero technologies, sustainability, systems engineering, and quantum engineering.



  • September 10, 2024: Planning (Track 1), Adaptation & Implementation (Track 2), Innovation (Track 3), and Innovation Partnerships (Track 4) proposals
  • April 08, 2025: Planning (Track 1) proposals
Areas of Interest

RED Two-Year Track: The RED Two-Year track supports projects that involve radically new approaches among multiple two-year institutions that result in structural changes beyond existing norms and principles. The goal of this track is to generate new knowledge on best practices for preparing engineering and engineering technology students for future professions and integrating professional skills into the curriculum at two-year institutions through supporting partnerships. The focus is expected to be on students who would transfer to accredited four-year engineering or engineering-technology institutions.

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.

For all tracks, the Principal Investigator (PI) must be a Department Chair/Head (or equivalent) of a department for whom a significant percentage of students will graduate or transfer to a program with a bachelor’s degree in engineering or engineering technology. The PI must be empowered to provide leadership for the proposed change process. In cases where the institutional responsibilities of a Department Chair/Head do not enable them to support the degree of change being sought, a Dean, Provost, or other senior leader may serve as PI, provided they will be responsible for the active leadership of the RED project. The qualifications of the PI can be justified in the required letter from senior institutional leadership.

It is recommended that projects consider including individuals with expertise in (a) engineering education research and (b) organizational change on the leadership team.

Amount Description

The program estimates making 10-13 awards for projects in Track 1. The program estimates making a total of 3-6 awards for projects in Tracks 2, 3, & 4.

The budget for Planning (Track 1) proposals is up to $75,000 per year for a duration of up to 2 years.

The budget for Adaptation & Innovation (Track 2) proposals is a maximum of $1,000,000 for a duration of up to 5 years.

The budget for Innovation (Track 3) proposals is between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 for a duration of up to 5 years.

The budget for Innovation Partnerships (Track 4) proposals is between $1,500,000 and $2,500,000 for collaborations across multiple institutions for a duration of up to 5 years.