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IUSE/Professional Formation of Engineers: REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments (RED)

Grants to USA IHEs for Programs to Prepare
Engineering Students for Professional Careers

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Science Foundation (NSF)

Deadline Date:

01/24/19 5:00 PM (Submitter's local time)


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Grants to USA IHEs for innovative programs that integrate professional skills, improve departmental culture, and generally strengthen the skills and knowledge of undergraduate computer science and engineering students. Funding is intended to better prepare these students to successfully join the workforce.

The goal of the RED program is to catalyze revolutionary, not incrementally reformist, changes to the education of the next generation of engineers. Revolutionary means radically, suddenly, or completely new; producing fundamental, structural change; or going outside of or beyond existing norms and principles. The complex problems facing society in the 21st Century demand changes to the way engineers are educated. For example, solving the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges will require engineers who not only have deep technical knowledge, but also an understanding of the societal and global contexts in which those problems occur. Obstacles to change that have been cited include underlying departmental and curricular structures, faculty reward systems, and faculty development. Among the common challenges facing engineering departments are how to weave both technical and professional skills throughout the curriculum, including skills defined by the ABET outcomes; how to promote and incentivized faculty engagement in the change process; and how to create cultures of inclusion that are welcoming to students and faculty of all types. Revolutionary change is needed in the structure of departments and the way students are educated to meet these challenges.

The RED program is intended to address the holistic formation of engineers. Engineering has many unique aspects that differ from other STEM disciplines. Engineering undergraduate programs prepare students for professional practice; in engineering, the BS degree provides eligibility to qualify for the Professional Engineer license. Furthermore, in the high-tech environment upon which the global economy is based, the perennial debate about workforce shortages of engineers requires a more precise understanding of dynamic industry needs and of the abilities of departments to address them. Therefore, NSF is taking a holistic look at how engineers are being prepared for lifelong careers in technical and socio-technical professions. The RED program seeks to respond to the call from different stakeholders (e.g., industry, the public, government, and the profession itself) for professional formation of engineers with a broad set of professional abilities. It seeks to address the fact that the percentages of persons from underrepresented groups entering into – and remaining in – the practice of engineering are still unacceptably low, impacting the future health of the national workforce.

Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) refers to the formal and informal processes and value systems through which people become engineers. This includes the ethical responsibility of practicing engineers to sustain and grow the profession in order to improve quality of life for all people. Professional formation includes, but is not limited, to:
- Introductions to the profession at any age;
- Acquisition 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 a responsibly technical professional; and
- Acculturation to the profession, its standards, and norms.

Specific activities supported by the RED solicitation may include, but are not limited to:
- Establishing convergent technical and professional threads that must be woven across the four years, especially in core technical courses of the middle two years, in internship opportunities in the private and public sectors, and in research opportunities with faculty;
- Exploring strategies for institutional, systemic, and cultural change, including new approaches to faculty governance or department structures and to restructuring faculty incentive or reward systems;
- Exploring collaborative arrangements with industry and other stakeholders who are mutually interested in developing the best possible professional formation environment and opportunities for students;
- Exploring strategies to bridge the engineering education research-to-practice gap, primarily through faculty development and adoption of best practices in the professional formation of engineers; and
- Exploring revolutionary means of recruiting and retaining students and faculty reflective of the modern and swiftly changing demographics of the United States.

RED Innovation track: The RED Innovation track supports projects that involve radically, suddenly, or completely new approaches and action; producing fundamental, structural change; and that go outside of or beyond existing norms and principles. This track has two goals:

- Generate new knowledge on best practices for meaningfully and thoughtfully incorporating into the middle two years and technical core of the engineering curriculum oft-neglected "professional skills" (i.e. 21st century skills, design, communication, teamwork, historical and contemporary social context, lifelong learning, and ethics). Changes in the middle two years need to be integrated with freshman and senior experiences in order to form an unbroken sequenced thread through the curriculum so that the process of professional formation deepens and strengthens as students move through engineering programs.
- Generate new knowledge on how to transform the departmental cultures to be environments that are inclusive, innovative, equitable and supportive of faculty, faculty development to support cultural change, and build new department structures and cultures through innovative practices and policies that support significant holistic professional formation.

Strategies should be developed with impact on the student as the focus. Proposed efforts must be grounded in sound educational theory and work to enable a continuous progression of professional formation through the four-year experience. Efforts should address 21st Century T-shaped skills (i.e., cross-disciplinary breadth), and they should be aligned with stakeholder expectations.

RED A&I Track: The RED A&I track support projects that use evidence-based and evidence-generating change strategy approaches and actions that are adapted to the local context. The goal of this track is to:

- Generate new knowledge related to the adaptation of proven change strategies and actions in a new context.

Strategies should be developed with impact on the student as the focus. Proposed efforts must be grounded in sound educational theory and work to enable a continuous progression of professional formation through the four-year experience. Efforts should address 21st Century T-shaped skills (i.e., cross-disciplinary breadth), and they should be aligned with stakeholder expectations.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 162927

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

4 - 6: 2-3 RED Innovation awards and 2-3 RED-A&I awards depending on funding availability and quality of proposals received.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Award Ceiling: $2,000,000
Award Floor: $1,000,000

Term of Contract:

The project duration is up to 5 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

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 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.

Proposals may only be submitted by the following: Colleges and universities with baccalaureate engineering programs located and accredited in the U.S. are eligible to apply. However, partnerships are encouraged with local two-year colleges to ensure that the impacts of departmental changes on two-year colleges (and especially the two-to-four year pathway through engineering) are properly considered.

Institutions that have previously received a RED award are not eligible to receive an award under the RED Innovation track of this solicitation.

Institutions may only receive one RED Innovation award under this solicitation.

Pre-Application Information:

Full Proposal Deadline Date: January 24, 2019

A webinar was held about the REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments program. The video, slides, and transcript can be downloaded from Supporting Documents below.

All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via the NSF FastLane system and not via

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online via

Or apply online via FastLane:

Julie P. Martin

Heather Watson

National Science Foundation
2415 Eisenhower Avenue,
Alexandria, VA 22314

CFDA Number:

47.041, 47.076

Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming