(118c) NSF and Support Of Sustainable Engineering Research and Education

Authors: 
Hamilton, B., National Science Foundation



An overview of NSF support of sustainable engineering research and education will be presented. Funding opportunities will be highlighted, and brief examples of funded research and education activities will be given. Comments will be made on some potential future directions for research on sustainable engineering. NSF has a wide variety of sustainable engineering research funding opportunities available. At NSF, funding opportunities can be grouped into two general categories, "standing programs" and "solicitations." Standing programs accept proposals on a regular basis, usually at least once per year, during a date window for each program (see the webpages for specific programs on NSF's website,www.nsf.gov ). For engineering research on sustainability, NSF's Engineering Directorate (ENG) has established two standing programs that have the word "sustainability" in their program titles. There two programs are the "Environmental Sustainability" program and the "Energy for Sustainability" program. Both of these programs have webpages on NSF's website that describe the programs and how to apply to them for research grants. On each of these program pages, links are embedded that list all the active grants funded by each program, with a description of each grant. In ENG, other programs also accept proposals related to sustainability. For example, the Process and Reaction Engineering program accepts proposals related to the sustainability of chemical processing and bioprocessing. The Civil Infrastructure Systems program will consider proposals on infrastructure sustainability and resilience. The Manufacturing Enterprise Systems program will consider proposals on supply chain sustainability. These are just a few example opportunities in the standing program category. Grants in this category are typically $300K with a duration of 3 years, or, for CAREER grants (Assistant Professors only), $400K with a duration of 5 years. “Solicitations” are special calls-for-proposals, and may be issued only once, or at most, just a few times. For sustainability research, NSF recently established a Foundation-wide investment area, Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES). SEES is offering a good number of solicitations, providing diverse opportunities for research proposals. Among these opportunities is the Water Sustainability and Climate solicitation (WSC), with new grant opportunities up to $4 million each. Another solicitation is entitled "Sustainability Research Networks (SRN)." SRN awards are up to $12 million each. One SRN competition has been held so far and resulted in two SRN awards. One of these SRN awards is on the environmental and social impacts of fracking. The other is on climate change mitigation. A second SRN competition is being planned, and should be announced within a few months. Additionally, about 25 grants have been made under SEES to establish Research Coordination Networks (RCN-SEES grants). These are just a few of the activities under SEES, and more information on SEES is available on NSF's website.