University of Southern California


NSF-17-501: IUSE / Professional Formation of Engineers: REvolutionizing engineering and computer science Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED)

Slots:                                                          2
LOI:                                                            December 9, 2016                               
Internal Deadline:                                E-mail Marjorie Brownbill at for information.
External Deadline:                               March 16, 2015
Award Information:                           Type:  Grant
Estimated Number of Awards: 6-8
Anticipated Amount: $From $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 total for a duration of up to 5 years.

Submission Process:                    This nomination process is being coordinated by the Viterbi School. E-mail Marjorie Brownbill at for information.

Link to Award:

Who May Serve as PI: 

The Principal Investigator must be a department chair/head (or equivalent) to establish institutional accountability. There must be a RED team that includes (at a minimum) an expert in engineering education or computer science education research who can ground the research plan in the literature, and a social science expert who can advise on strategies for developing a culture of change and on strategies for creating meaningful collective ownership of the effort among faculty, students, and staff. The social scientist must have the expertise to evaluate departmental dynamics and monitor change processes.


NSF is taking a holistic look at how engineers and computer scientists are being prepared for lifelong careers in technical and socio-technical professions. It seeks to respond to the perennial call from different stakeholders (e.g., industry, the public, government, and the profession itself) for professional formation of engineers and computer scientists with a broad set of professional abilities. It seeks to address the fact that the percentages of persons from underrepresented groups entering into — and remaining in — the practice of engineering and computer science are still unacceptably low, impacting the future health of the national workforce.

To address these and related matters, in 2014, ENG launched an initiative, the Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE), to create and support an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st century. The engineering and computer science professions must be responsive to national priorities, grand challenges, and dynamic workforce needs, and they must be equally open and available to all. The RED program was first offered in FY 2015 as a PFE initiative aligned with the IUSE framework. The RED program is a cross-directorate program, as multiple directorates at NSF support formation of engineers and computer scientists and institutional transformation as part of their overall strategies.

Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) is NSF’s comprehensive, Foundation-wide framework for an integrated vision of the agency’s investments in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The key guiding principle of IUSE is to ensure focused, strategic investments that address the greatest challenges in U.S. undergraduate STEM education. The long-term goals of the IUSE framework are to: 1) improve STEM learning and learning environments, 2) broaden participation and institutional capacity for STEM learning, and 3) build the professional STEM workforce for tomorrow. Collectively, IUSE programs will 1) build core knowledge, 2) implement and scale evidence-based practices, 3) catalyze departmental and institutional transformation, 4) provide scholarships, and 5) promote disciplinary research experiences. NSF expects that investments within the IUSE portfolio will be informed by theories and findings from education research with attention to the needs and directions of frontier science and engineering research. New knowledge about both learning and implementation will be developed across all IUSE investments through a vibrant partnership of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and education experts.

In FY 2017, IUSE will:

Visit our Institutionally Limited Submission webpage for updates and other announcements.