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NSF Awards $12 Million to Redesign Undergraduate Engineering and Computer Science Education

University of San Diego engineering student

A student works on a circuit board project at the University of San Diego, one of six institutions selected for an NSF RED award. (Photo courtesy of University of San Diego)

Engineering and computer science programs at six higher education institutions will get a big revamp thanks to $12 million in funding from the National Science Foundation. The NSF Directorates for Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, and Education and Human Resources have jointly awarded six five-year, $2 million grants to "help universities substantially improve the professional formation of engineers and computer scientists — the formal and informal processes and value systems by which people become experts in these fields," according to a press release.

"The engineering and computer science professions have a large potential to address national priorities and societal grand challenges," said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF assistant director for engineering, in a statement. "To flourish in the future, engineering and computer science must attract and retain people from all sectors of society."

A key part of the grants is support for revolutionizing engineering departments, an NSF program known as RED. RED projects "build upon successful innovations in the introductory and capstone years to improve the entire undergraduate experience, including technical core courses during sophomore and junior years, extracurricular professional activities and student transfer from two- to four-year institutions." They can also involve "faculty development, faculty incentives and inclusive academic cultures."

"An underlying premise of RED is that department heads can be critical levers for change," said Donna Riley, NSF program director for engineering education research, in a statement. "RED focuses on transforming department structure and faculty reward systems to stimulate comprehensive change in policies, practices and curricula."

This year's grant recipients:

The next RED call for proposals is planned for FY 2016. For more information, visit the NSF site.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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