Engineer (Program Director)

Division: Engineering Education and Centers (ENG/EEC)
Directorate: Engineering (ENG)
Job Type:
Appointment Type:
Temporary / Rotator
This job is open to the public

Application timeline

Date Posted:
Closing date: Open until filled
Formal consideration of interested applicants will begin and will continue until a selection is made.

Position Summary

The Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC), in the Directorate for Engineering, at the National Science Foundation is seeking a Program Director for the Engineering Research Center (ERC) program through an Intergovernmental Personnel Assignment (IPA) Act appointment. The initial appointment will be made for one year, and it may be extended for additional years by mutual agreement.

NSF Program Directors bear the primary responsibility for carrying out the Foundation’s overall mission to support innovative and merit-evaluated activities in fundamental research and education that contribute to the nation’s technological strength, security and welfare. The positions require a commitment to high standards of intellectualism and ethical conduct, a considerable breadth of interest, receptivity to new ideas, a strong sense of fairness, good judgment, and a high degree of personal integrity. EEC’s ERC Program Directors solicit, receive and review proposals, make funding recommendations and administer awards. They are also responsible for interaction with other Federal agencies, forming and guiding interagency collaborations, and for service to Foundation-wide activities.

Position Description

The ERC program was launched in 1985, and it continues to be a landmark program in federal support for university research and education in partnership with industry. These centers provide an interdisciplinary environment where academe and industry focus together on fundamental research to advance complex engineered systems, which will eventually transform industrial processes, develop new product lines, and/or build new infrastructures important for the Nation's future. NSF has continually refined the goals and purposes of the ERC program to meet shifting needs. The NSF-requested 2017 study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) “A New Vision for Center-Based Engineering Research” recommends that NSF place a greater emphasis on forming research centers focused on convergent research and education approaches that address challenges with significant societal impact. Convergent problems require the deep integration of knowledge, tools, and ways of thinking across disciplinary boundaries. A detailed explanation of the convergence concept can be found in a 2014 National Academies report, “Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Beyond” and in the NSF’s 10 Big Ideas Growing Convergence Research at NSF website.

Now in their fourth generation, ERCs continue to focus on advancing engineered systems through inclusive cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships, while placing greater emphasis on basic research that leads to societal impact through convergent approaches, engaging stakeholder communities, and strengthening team formation. ERCs establish innovation ecosystems, which include: partnerships with center member firms/practitioners to strengthen the ERC and streamline technology transfer; translational research partnerships with small firms to accelerate commercialization of high-risk ERC advancements; and innovation partnerships with local organizations to stimulate entrepreneurship and job creation as well as enable technological innovation. For more information, please visit the Division’s website at:

The successful candidate will be a member of the team of Program Directors and staff responsible for the selection and post-award oversight of ERCs. The position combines ERC program level functions in post-award oversight and assessment with responsibility for selected centers. The incumbent will coordinate with the other ERC program directors to synthesize dynamic metrics from research, professional formation, and innovation in ERC activities using data analytics tools.

The position recruited under this announcement will be filled under the following appointment option(s):

Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Assignment: Individuals eligible for an IPA assignment with a Federal agency include employees of State and local government agencies or institutions of higher education, Indian tribal governments, and other eligible organizations in instances where such assignments would be of mutual benefit to the organizations involved. Initial assignments under IPA provisions may be made for a period up to two years, with a possible extension for up to an additional two-year period. The individual remains an employee of the home institution and NSF provides the negotiated funding toward the assignee's salary and benefits. Initial IPA assignments are made for a one-year period and may be extended by mutual agreement. 

It is NSF policy that NSF personnel employed at or IPAs detailed to NSF are not permitted to participate in foreign government talent recruitment programs.  Failure to comply with this NSF policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including removal from Federal Service or termination of an IPA assignment and referral to the Office of Inspector General.

Applications will be accepted from U.S. Citizens. Recent changes in Federal Appropriations Law require Non-Citizens to meet certain eligibility criteria to be considered. Therefore, Non-Citizens must certify eligibility by signing and attaching this Citizenship Affidavit to their application. Non-Citizens who do not provide the affidavit at the time of application will not be considered eligible. Non-Citizens are not eligible for positions requiring a security clearance.

To ensure compliance with an applicable preliminary nationwide injunction, which may be supplemented, modified, or vacated, depending on the course of ongoing litigation, the Federal Government will take no action to implement or enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement pursuant to Executive Order 14043 on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees. Federal agencies may request information regarding the vaccination status of selected applicants for the purposes of implementing other workplace safety protocols, such as protocols related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.

Candidates must have a Ph.D. in an engineering discipline or a related and appropriate field; plus after award of the degree, six or more years of successful research, research administration and/or managerial experience pertinent to the position.

In addition, effective oral and written communication skills, and familiarity with NSF programs and activities is highly desirable. The incumbent is expected to function effectively both as individual within the ERC program and as a member of crosscutting and interactive teams. The incumbent must also demonstrate a capability to work across government agencies to promote NSF activities and to leverage program funds through interagency collaborations.

Persons wishing to apply for this position are referred to the Division’s web page for a description of the program. These persons are also encouraged to contact current Program Directors, identified on the program web page, for more information.

To apply, email a single PDF document that includes (i) statement of interest, (ii) a curriculum vitae, and (iii) Citizen affidavit, as applicable, to:

Although paper applications will be accepted at the below address, it is preferred that they be received electronically.

  • Division of Engineering Education and Centers,
  • Suite 585 National Science Foundation
  • 2415 Eisenhower Avenue, Office E14318
  • National Science Foundation
  • Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: 703-292-8380
Attn: Dr. Don Millard, Deputy Division Director