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Research in the Formation of Engineers (RFE)
The NSF Engineering (ENG) Directorate has launched a multi-year initiative, the Professional Formation of Engineers, to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st century. Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) refers to the formal and informal processes and value systems by which people become engineers. It also includes the ethical responsibility of practicing engineers to sustain and grow the profession in order to improve quality of life for all peoples. The engineering profession must be responsive to national priorities, grand challenges, and dynamic workforce needs; it must be equally open and accessible to all.
Professional Formation of Engineers includes, but is not limited, to:
- Introductions to the profession at any age;
- Development of deep technical and professional skills, knowledge, and abilities in both formal and informal settings/domains;
- Development of outlooks, perspectives, ways of thinking, knowing, and doing;
- Development of identity as an engineer and its intersection with other identities; and
- Acculturation to the profession, its standards, and norms.
The goal of the Research in the Formation of Engineers (RFE) program is to advance our understanding of professional formation. It seeks both to deepen our fundamental understanding of the underlying processes and mechanisms that support professional formation and to demonstrate how professional formation is or can be accomplished. Ultimately RFE aims to transform the engineer-formation system, and thus the impact of proposed projects on this system must be described. Principal Investigators (PIs) should provide a roadmap detailing how they envision the proposed research will eventually broadly impact practice within the engineer-formation system, even if these activities are not within the scope of the submitted proposal.
In order to accomplish its goals, RFE welcomes proposals in two categories: Research Projects, and Design and Development Projects. Research Projects address fundamental questions of professional formation, while Design and Development Projects provide new approaches to achieving professional formation. Additional details are provided below. Projects in both categories should address the iterative cycle in which research questions that advance understanding are informed by practice and the results of research are, in turn, translated into practice. In other words, proposals should explain how the research results will travel, translate, transfer, or scale. Successful projects identify specific target audiences, effective communication channels, and novel partnerships to ensure effective propagation and scaling.
Full Proposal Accepted Anytime
Proposals submitted to other program announcements and solicitations, including the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), must meet their respective deadlines; please refer to the deadline dates specified in the appropriate announcement or solicitation. Proposals for EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) or Rapid Response Research (RAPID) can be submitted at any time but Principal Investigators must contact the cognizant program director prior to submission. Proposals for supplements or workshops can be submitted at any time, and PIs are encouraged to contact the cognizant PD prior to submission.
Areas of Interest
- The relationship between engineering and the public. Proposals addressing this topic could consider the social impact of engineering solutions, citizen engineering, education of an informed public, etc.
Proposals submitted to the Research Projects category should have clear research questions informed by an appropriate theoretical framework and a research design that includes sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods. This category will not support proposals that seek funding primarily to develop tools, curriculum, or laboratories, or that seek to implement classroom innovations that have already been shown to be effective in engineering.