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How to Apply for Federal Assistance
Writing a Winning Grant Proposal
Understanding the Federal Program Descriptions

Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
47.041 Engineering Grants

FEDERAL AGENCY:

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

AUTHORIZATION:

National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 106-377, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.
OBJECTIVES: Click here for help!
NSF's Directorate for Engineering (ENG) seeks to improve the quality of life and the economic strength of the Nation by fostering innovation, creativity, and excellence in engineering education and research. Specifically, ENG enables the Nation's long- term capacity to perform by: (1) Investing in the creation of new engineering knowledge and the development of human capital within disciplines and at their interfaces; (2) making critical investments to enable an intelligent, agile and adaptable physical infrastructure for engineering education and research; (3) improving the quality and effectiveness of engineering education and research through the integration of and systemic reform of these processes; and (4) enabling knowledge transfer connections among diverse constituencies and communities. Areas of research include: tissue engineering; metabolic pathway engineering; bioinformatics; protein drug processing, fluid flow; combustion; heat transfer; fuel cells; sensors; integrated modeling of the behavior of materials and structures; civil infrastructure; structures and mechanical systems; engineering in geologic materials; reducing risks of natural and technological hazards; enterprise-level integration technologies; innovative design strategies; manufacturing processes and materials; production systems; microelectronic, nanoelectronic, micromagnetic, photonic, and electromechanical devices and their integration into circuits and microsystems; design and analysis of systems and the convergence of control, communications and computation; Engineering Research Groups; Engineering Research Centers; Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers; Engineering Education; Human Resources Development; cross cutting activities and special studies and analyses. Support is also provided for undergraduate student research, graduate research fellowships, research equipment and instrumentation, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Innovation and Organizational Change and Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI). ENG also provides support for Foundation-wide programs including the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Program.

TYPES OF ASSISTANCE:

Project Grants.
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USES AND USE RESTRICTIONS:

Funds may be used for paying costs to conduct research, such as salaries and wages, equipment and supplies, travel, publication costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs. This program does not provide support for inventions, product development, marketing, pilot plant efforts, technical assistance, or research requiring security classifications.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

Applicant Eligibility:   Public and private colleges and universities, nonprofit institutions, profit-making institutions including small businesses, State, and local government agencies and unaffiliated individuals.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Public and private colleges and universities; nonprofit institutions; profit organizations, including small businesses; State, and local government agencies; and unaffiliated individuals.

Credentials/Documentation:   The proposal must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for colleges and universities and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

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APPLICATION AND AWARD PROCESS:
Pre-application Coordination:   None required for unsolicited proposals, but preliminary discussions with relevant National Science Foundation program officer, by telephone or mail, is encouraged if specific program information is needed. Special proposal competitions may specify preapplication requirements. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   Proposals must be submitted electronically via FastLane to the Engineering Programs and should follow the general instructions and guidelines in the NSF "Grant Proposal Guide," NSF 03-2. Research proposals for support under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program must be submitted in response to an annual solicitation. All proposals are acknowledged. These programs are subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedure:   NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals with the assistance and advice of scientists and engineers who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal, of prospective users of research results when appropriate, and of specialists in other Federal agencies when appropriate.

Deadlines:   See Division web pages for deadlines for unsolicited research proposals. Some programs and special proposal competitions have target dates for receipt of proposals. Applicants should contact the program officer listed under the Information Contacts section of this program for dates on specific programs.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   Approximately 3 to 7 months.

Appeals:   The Principal Investigator may request, in writing, that the Foundation reconsider its action in declining any proposal application, renewal application, or continuing application.

Renewals:   NSF awards the following types of grants: 1) Standard Grants, in which NSF agrees to support a specified level of effort for a specified period of time, with no statement of NSF intent to provide additional future support. Proposals for renewal of a Standard Grant compete with all other pending proposals. 2) Continuing Grants, in which NSF agrees to support a specified level of effort for a specified period of time, with a statement of intent to provide additional support for the project, provided funds are available and the results achieved warrant further support. Funding is normally in one-year increments. Some awards are made as cooperative agreements when substantial NSF involvement is required during the project performance period. Renewals are not allowed for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

ASSISTANCE CONSIDERATIONS:

Formula and Matching Requirements:   Cost-sharing may not apply to solicited proposals, or to conferences and symposia, publication, travel, or logistic support. A minimum cost-sharing of one- third of total costs is required for equipment grants. Some cost-sharing is also expected for Engineering Research Centers and Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers. The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)(Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information on the general NSF policy on cost-sharing. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a phased project program. Phase I is a feasibility study up to 6 months. Phase II is the principal research program for up to 24 months.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   Normally 6 months to 3 years, occasionally longer.

POST ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Reports:   For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report. Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required. Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.

Audits:   In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A- 133 (Revised, June 24, 1997), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $300,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $300,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.

Records:   Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the award was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the award and for 3 years thereafter.

FINANCIAL INFORMATION:

Account Identification:   49-0100-0-1-251.

Obligations:   (Grants and Contracts) FY 01 $433,370,000; FY 02 est $472,320,000; and FY 03 est $487,980,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  
Range Low $2,500
Range High $22,000,000
Average $155,069.

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PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
In fiscal year 2001, 7,480 proposals were received and 2,911 awards were made. In fiscal year 2002, approximately 7,800 proposals will be received and about 3,100 awards will be made, and in fiscal year 2003 approximately 7,800 proposals will be received and about 3,100 awards will be made.

REGULATIONS, GUIDELINES, AND LITERATURE:

45 CFR Chapter VI; 48 CFR Chapter 25; "NSF Guide to Programs, Fiscal Year 2003," NSF 03-009 (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf03009); and "Grant Proposal Guide,"NSF 03-2, (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nsf032); selected solicitations include "Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STIR) Programs Phase I Solicitation," NSF 02-056; "Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER)," NSF 02-111; "Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI)," NSF 98-142; "Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)," NSF 01- 171. For descriptions of ENG program announcements, please check the following Electronic source: ENG Home Page on Internet World Wide Web (WWW). URL Address is: http://www.eng.nsf.gov/.

INFORMATION CONTACTS:

Regional or Local Office:   See Regional Agency Offices.

Headquarters Office:  
Darren Dutterer 4201 Wilson Blvd, Staffore I-505, Arlington, Virginia 22230 Email: dduttere@nsf.gov Phone: 7032924494 Fax: 7032929013

Web Site Address:  
http://nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org=eng

EXAMPLES OF FUNDED PROJECTS:

(1) Design and Evaluation of Artificial Retina Device to Benefit the Visually Impaired. (2) Scalable Enterprise Systems. (3) Solid Modeling and its Applications (4) Free- Radical Reactions in Supercritical Fluids. (5) Engine Heat Transfer and Combustion Studies. (6) Signal Processing for Acoustic Emission and Ultrasonic Testing. (7) Enhanced Ultrafast X-Ray Generation using Pulse Shaping. (8) Accelerator-Based Fast Neutron Brachytherapy. (9) Undergraduate Research in Solid Freeform Materials and Technology. (10) Faculty Early Career Development: Developing Engineering Criteria for the Inclusion of Disabled Employees (DECIDE) in the Workplace. (11) Communication and Control of Integrated Manufacturing Systems. (12) SBIR Research: Thallium Bromide X-ray Photocathodes.

CRITERIA FOR SELECTING PROPOSALS:

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposals preparation requirements. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer’s discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal.

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposals being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgments. Relevant questions are: (1) What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?; (2) How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?; (3) How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.); (4) To what extend does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts; (5) How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?; (6) Is the sufficient access to resources?; (7) What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?; (8) How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning?; (9) How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)?; (10) To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships?; (11) Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?, and (12) What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

Integration of Research and Education – One of the principal strategies in support of NSF’s goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities – Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens – women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities – is essential to health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

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