University of Southern California


NSF-14-541 – Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) in Engineering

Slots:                                                    One                      
Nomination per School:               One
Proposals may not be submitted directly by the PI; nominations are submitted by the School’s Research Dean’s Office.    

LOI:                                                       NA                         
Internal Deadline:                           April 7, 2014
External Deadline:                          May 27, 2014
Award Information:                        Type:  Standard Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 10
Anticipated Amount: $1,900,000 pending availability of funds. Each award will be up to a maximum of $200,000 for two years.

Materials to Office of Research: Single Page Proposal Summary (0.5” margins; single-spaced; font type: Arial, Helvetica, or Georgia typeface; font size: 11 pt.).
CV – (4 pages maximum)
Link to Award:


This solicitation aims at introducing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology through a variety of interdisciplinary approaches into undergraduate engineering education. The focus of the FY 2014 competition is on nanoscale engineering education with relevance to devices and systems and/or on the societal, ethical, economic and/or environmental issues relevant to nanotechnology.

A well-prepared, innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is crucial to the Nation’s health and economy. Indeed, recent policy actions and reports have drawn attention to the opportunities and challenges inherent in increasing the number of highly qualified STEM graduates, including STEM teachers. Priorities include educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate populace; both of these priorities depend on the nature and quality of the undergraduate education experience. In addressing these STEM challenges and priorities, the National Science Foundation invests in research-based and research-generating approaches to understanding STEM learning; to designing, testing, and studying curricular change; to wide dissemination and implementation of best practices; and to broadening participation of individuals and institutions in STEM fields. The goals of these investments include: increasing student retention in STEM, to prepare students well to participate in science for tomorrow, and to improve students’ STEM learning outcomes.

Recognizing disciplinary differences and priorities, NSF’s investment in research and development in undergraduate STEM education encompasses a range of approaches. These approaches include: experiential learning, assessment/metrics of learning and practice, scholarships, foundational education research, professional development/institutional change, formal and informal learning environments, and undergraduate disciplinary research. Both individually and integrated in a range of combinations, these approaches can lead to outcomes including: developing the STEM and STEM-related workforce, advancing science, broadening participation in STEM, educating a STEM-literate populace, improving K-12 STEM education, encouraging life-long learning, and building capacity in higher education.

Program Goals

Advances in nanotechnology research provide new opportunities in undergraduate education. With its focus on imaging and manipulating the atom, the ultimate building block of matter, nanoscale science and engineering (NSE) provides a multitude of new interdisciplinary teaching opportunities for engaging interest and for broadening vision by students of science, engineering, and technology. NSE thus permits new strategies for enhancing science and engineering literacy, preparing the workforce for emerging technologies, and attracting a diverse group of talented students to the workforce of tomorrow. The FY 2014 solicitation is focused on nanoscale engineering education with relevance to devices and systems, and/or on the societal, ethical, economic and/or environmental issues relevant to nanotechnology.

NUE in Engineering provides opportunities for invigorating undergraduate engineering education through creative new courses and research experiences. It blends engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computer science, materials science, geology, behavioral and social sciences, and design. As such, it provides new opportunities for faculty collaboration, both in teaching and in research, that cross traditional disciplinary and departmental boundaries. Some examples of nanotechnology-based topics that can be introduced into the curriculum include scanning probe methods, devices using nanotubes, bottom-up and top-down syntheses of nanoscale materials, self-assembly, nanobiotechnology, environmental aspects of nanotechnology, applications of nanotechnology to information technology, properties and fundamental phenomena in nanoscale materials, computational methods for modeling nanoscale materials, nanoscale devices, nanoscale systems, design principles at nanoscale, and the societal, ethical, economic and environmental implications of nanotechnology. See for additional examples