Making the Case for Engineering Study and Recommendations

The “ENG Portfolio" Details

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The “ENG Portfolio" Details

1. Financial Analysis

Darren Dutterer has compiled a financial analysis of ENG's portfolio for each of the four (4) most recently completed fiscal years. Data are presented for each of these fiscal years -- ENG division by ENG division (for all 6 ENG divisions) plus OAD/ENG. Taking totals of the data yields the following results:

2. ASTG Related Work

The ENG Awards and Solicitations Task Group (ASTG) is currently compiling data for ENG solicitations. These data include, for each ENG solicitation, the number of proposals, the number of awards, and the success rate for each solicitation.

3. AIA Related Work

The ENG Awards Impact and Assessment Task Group (AIA) is "responsible for recommending how ENG should determine the impact of its investments in research, education, and innovation." In the long run, the outcome of such assessments will be of use in tuning the focus of investments in ENG's funding portfolio.

4. STG Related Work

The Strategic Thinking Group (STG) is doing a SWOT analysis of ENG, working on Vision statements, and thinking about strategy.

5. Workforce
The Workforce Task Group is recommending actions to enhance the quality and diversity of the engineering workforce.


  1. Create a Vision that is embraced by ENG.

  2. Better focus ENG's portfolio to be congruent with:

(a) ENG's Vision

(b) Serving the "community"

(Action by EMT)

Appendix 3: Partnerships

The Directorate for Engineering at NSF has established numerous partnerships over the past decade to support a broad spectrum of engineering research and educational activities. These collaborations are viewed as essential to fulfilling ENG’s Vision.

In making the case for engineering, partnerships have been embraced as a means to reach out to a broad community of researchers and educators, by establishing relevance through connectivity with those in other government agencies, industry, professional societies, and non-profit organizations. Many of the partnerships that have formed over the past decade have focused on either a specific research topic, the realization of new devices, or the creation of an educational agenda that addresses a national need, national security, issues around globalization, or the advancement of specific new technologies. In numerous instances, ENG has taken a leadership role in the management of the partnership. At other occasions, ENG has been a key constituent of a broad-based activity. The value of these partnerships have included the advancement of knowledge in an emerging area, the setting of new directions for the nation, and the creation of centers of excellence that integrate across science and engineering.
External partnerships with other agencies, professional societies, and technical groups have been formed to support research, education, and studies into emerging technologies. The table on the following page provides a partial listing of recent activities.
Some of the partnerships were a result of interests of program officers in different agencies committing program funds to a one-time, or short span of activity. The NSF/SRC Mixed Signal Electronic Technologies represents this time of solicitation, which ran through just one cycle. The NSF/Sandia program is an ongoing activity, again supported by a working group of program officers across four of the engineering divisions at NSF. This activity has had three calls for proposals, each announcement reflecting current interests of the programs at NSF and Sandia.
Other, longer-term relationships have been established such as the NSF/EPA Technologies for Sustainable Systems, which ran joint solicitations from 1997 through 2003. The management of each of the examples focused on a working group with a lead program officer in each agency to marshal the management plan, a memorandum of agreement and the text of the solicitation through each agency or entity.



Funding $

Funding $


A. Environmental Technologies and Systems (03-510)





B. Multiscale Modeling in Biomedical, Biological,

And Behavioral Systems (04-607)








D. Systems Modeling and Simulation (03-505)




E. Semiconductor Factory and Supply Chain (04-532




F. Opportunities in Metabolic Engineering (03-516)




G. Nanotechnology (NNIN)




H. Quantitative Systems Biology (04-516)




I. ITR (04-012)




J. Biocomplexity in the Environment (03-597)




K. Cooperative Activities in Mat’ls Research (03-565)



NSF ENG has also taken a different role in establishing long-term partnerships to create a vision for future directions in emerging areas. One example is the leadership role ENG took in advancing nanotechnologies through sustained efforts in NNUN, Partnerships in Nanotechnologies, NSE, and NNIN. The effectiveness of the engineering leadership in pulling together a broad coalition of agencies, national labs and cross-directorate support, starting in the mid-90s is demonstrated by the growth of the engineering research and educational activities in the global nano-technology arena.
FUTURETRUCK 2003 – A DOE / NSF / Automotive Industry (FORD & GM) partnership sponsoring the student team competition for reducing environmental impact while maintaining performance of vehicles.
nternal partnerships
within NSF have become a fact of life for the Engineering Directorate. Examples of these include current activities in ITR, Biocomplexity, and with EHR that focus on multi-disciplinary research and curricular development at levels extending well beyond the engineering domain. These collaborations can occur from either a top-down directive or a bottom-up teaming of program officers with a common vision. Each of the activities that represent an NSF-wide priority area appears to have a different management scheme. In all cases, coordination, collaboration, and communication are key issues for ENG when resources have been committed to a multi-year, NSF-wide solicitation. The success of these partnerships is often dependent upon the management plan developed to support the long-term goals of the various divisions and directorates. The potential of bringing communities of researchers together to address highly complex systems research can be of significant value to the desired progression from scientific discovery through to the realization of these ideas.
Vertically-aligned partnerships provide a framework for a NSF ENG to enhance activities that include both education and research, with direct collaboration with professional societies or industry, aimed at integrating and advancing multi-disciplinary thrusts in emerging and important areas. The Engineering Research Centers program, the NEES infrastructure program, and the BEES program between engineering and EHR provide examples where engineering has establish the necessary support for comprehensive programs that incorporate goals to educate the engineering workforce while advancing knowledge through sustained research activities with industrial or professional society input.
The challenges and potential failures that can occur in any of the different types of partnerships can include:

  1. Proposals that are not adequately responsive to the new directions in the solicitation;

  2. Changes in personnel resulting in less than enthusiastic support for an ongoing activity;

  3. Budgetary changes that redirect funds;

  4. Insufficient timeline to get the full community involvement in an emerging area.

In addition, there is a constant tension to maintain the appropriate balance between core programmatic research and the priority areas or directed solicitations. The management of resources for the directorate needs to be aligned with the vision for ENG that comes forward from the STG.

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