Deadline Info: Anytime

Agency/Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)


  • The Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE) Program is a Directorate-wide activity to support the development of a diverse and well-prepared workforce of engineering graduates, particularly those with advanced degrees. A central theme of the program's activities is enhancing the ability of early career faculty members, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to succeed in their careers as researchers and educators.   The Broadening Participation in Engineering Program supports projects to engage and develop diverse teams that can offer unique perspectives and insights to challenges in engineering research and education.  By seeing problems in different ways, a diverse workforce can encourage innovation and scientific breakthroughs. Throughout this Program Description, the term underrepresented groups will refer to and include the following: women, persons with disabilities, and ethnic/racial groups which are in the minority in engineering, specifically African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders.

    The Engineering Directorate recognizes that broadening participation is a systemic issue, with a need for wide-ranging and comprehensive interventions at all levels of the educational system.  While there is a general need to diversify pathways that lead to engineering careers, the BPE program currently supports engineering faculty, particularly early career faculty, in integrating broadening participation and diversity with their scholarly activities, including education, research and innovation.  Given that engineering addresses human needs, the US population is becoming much more diverse, and engineering practice increasingly turns to customers in designing innovations, it is critical that the faculty of the future are able to draw from diverse perspectives in their engineering research and educational activities.

    In alignment with the goals of the Engineering Directorate (ENG) and with other programs in the Engineering Education and Centers Division, the BPE Program is interested in areas related to:

    • Understanding how a diverse engineering student body, professional workforce, and faculty impact engineering innovation and productivity.

    • The underlying issues affecting the differential participation rates in engineering, particularly those that can be addressed by engineering faculty members.

    • The experiences and interactions that enhance or inhibit underrepresented groups' persistence to degree and career interest in the professoriate.

    BPE award activities should be informed by the body of knowledge that surrounds these (and other) important research questions; and in turn add to that knowledge base. 

    Establishing Mentoring and Networking Opportunities for early career engineering faculty members that allow targeted faculty to engage with, learn from, and network with diverse individuals and groups in ways that will demonstrably enhance their long term career success.  The program is particularly interested in creating opportunities for early career faculty from groups typically under-represented in engineering departments.  Funds will be utilized primarily to seed new networking and mentoring opportunities rather than fund ongoing efforts; thus all projects are expected to develop a plan for sustainability independent of further NSF support.

    Broadening Participation Research supports up to 3-year research projects that seek to create and study new models and innovations related to the participation and success of groups underrepresented in engineering graduate education, postdoctoral training, and academic engineering careers.  The program accepts a range of project scales from small, exploratory projects to larger scale investigations with a broad, systemic scope; project budgets should match the project scope.  Small-scale, exploratory projects that contribute to the knowledge base of diversifying faculty in engineering-for example exploring matriculation into graduate programs, reward structures for faculty, or ways to broaden participation from specific groups-are strongly encouraged.

  • Funding: $300,000 for 15 awards

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