(CLOSED) IUSE / Professional Formation of Engineers: Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED) (NSF 22-587)

Sponsor Name: 
NSF
Description of the Award: 

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) and Education and Human Resources (EHR) 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 three tracks: RED Innovation, RED Adaptation and Implementation (RED A&I) and RED Two-Year. 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. RED Two-Year projects will develop radically new approaches among multiple two-year institutions to expand the path to engineering and engineering technology education. Projects in all 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 or technologists. The focus of projects in all 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.

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. Innovations in similar departments across multiple institutions is particularly encouraged. This track has two goals:

  • Generate new knowledge on best practices for meaningfully and thoughtfully incorporating into the middle two years at four-year institutions 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. This track encourages proposals from two-year or four-year institutions that are interested in adopting change strategies at a single institution.

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 engineers and technologists 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.

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 two-year experience. Efforts should address 21st Century T-shaped skills (i.e., cross-disciplinary breadth), and they should be aligned with stakeholder expectations.

Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jul 18, 2022
OSVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

If you intend to submit complete the notification form to provide your contact information and the title and brief description of your project.

If interest exceeds the institutional limit of two proposals the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research will coordinate a selection review.

To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
Penn State OSVPR NOI Deadline: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2022 - 4:00pm
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
For help or questions: 

Questions concerning the limited submissions process may be submitted to limitedsubs@psu.edu.

Notes: 
No Applicants, Now first come, first served - Contact LimitedSubs@psu.edu if you wish to apply