NSF Awards Aim to Enhance Engineering Education and Enterprise
Staff posted on September 28, 2017 |
27 NSF INCLUDES Program awards will help leverage diversity in STEM to maintain the nation's leaders...
Montclair State University's project tackles underrepresentation through transdisciplinary teamwork. (Image courtesy of Montclair State University/NSF.)
Montclair State University's project tackles underrepresentation through transdisciplinary teamwork. (Image courtesy of Montclair State University/NSF.)

Today, U.S industries, universities and research centers face 21st-century challenges. They need skilled STEM workers to grow the economy, secure the national defense and advance other national priorities. Encouraging entry and participation in STEM fields is crucial to this goal.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced the issue of 27 new awards through its NSF INCLUDES program. The awarded programs are aimed at enhancing U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations specifically through a commitment to diversity and inclusion.

NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) is designed to create paths into these crucial STEM fields for underrepresented populations, expanding the nation's leadership and talent pools. Like other programs in NSF's Broadening Participation portfolio, NSF INCLUDES seeks to improve the U.S. STEM enterprise by leveraging the benefits of the nation’s diversity.

The 27 new Design and Development Launch Pilots, funded through two-year, $300,000 grants, will work to develop blueprints for collaborative change among a set of public-private partners in order to address broadening participation challenges. Recipient institutions include a number of major universities, as well as other educational and STEM groups across the country.

This focus on uniting a wide variety of collaborators to generate pioneering solutions to persistent problems is a key feature of NSF INCLUDES. These pilot projects will create an infrastructure that enables large-scale coordination, fueling future innovations in broadening STEM participation.

"Broadening participation in STEM is necessary for the United States to retain its position as the world's preeminent source of scientific innovation," said NSF director France Córdova. "The National Science Foundation has a long history of working to address difficult challenges by creating the space for innovative solutions. NSF INCLUDES breaks new ground by providing a sustained commitment to collaborative change with the goal of bringing STEM opportunities to more people and communities across the country."

NSF INCLUDES will invest in alliances that scale these efforts to broaden STEM participation among underrepresented groups, including women, persons with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, people from rural areas and those facing socioeconomic challenges. Multi-year NSF INCLUDES alliances will engage partners from private and corporate philanthropy, industry, non-profits, higher education, K-12 school systems, federal agencies and scientific professional societies, and any other organizations with an interest in and passion for STEM.

The NSF INCLUDES approach builds on a growing body of scientific research suggesting that complex problems are best addressed through collective impact or networked communities focused on finding solutions through common goals and shared resources. This strategy marks a shift away from successful efforts that have been locally focused, and toward activities that will have an impact on a national scale as institutions, professional societies and the scientific community cooperate and share information and effective strategies.

The 2017 project titles and recipient institutions are:

NSF INCLUDES is one of NSF's "10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments," a set of research agendas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering.

To learn more, visit the National Science Foundation website.

Source: National Science Foundation News

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