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Addressing Systems Challenges through Engineering Teams (ASCENT)

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NSF 23-541

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

Supports interdisciplinary research involving devices, circuits, systems and/or networks, with a focus on improving energy efficiency to combat climate change and enhance energy security.

Supports interdisciplinary research involving devices, circuits, systems and/or networks, with a focus on improving energy efficiency to combat climate change and enhance energy security.


The Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems Division (ECCS) supports enabling and transformative engineering research at the nano, micro, and macro scales that fuels progress in engineering system applications with high societal impact. This includes fundamental engineering research underlying advanced devices and components and their seamless penetration in power, controls, networking, communications, or cyber systems. The research is envisioned to be empowered by cutting-edge computation, synthesis, evaluation, and analysis technologies and is to result in significant impact for a variety of application domains in healthcare, homeland security, disaster mitigation, telecommunications, energy, environment, transportation, manufacturing, and other systems-related areas. ECCS also supports new and emerging research areas encompassing 5G and Beyond Spectrum and Wireless Technologies, Quantum Information Science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Big Data.

ECCS, through its ASCENT program, offers its engineering community the opportunity to address research issues and answer engineering challenges associated with complex systems and networks that are not achievable by a single principal investigator or by short-term projects and can only be achieved by interdisciplinary research teams. ECCS envisions a connected portfolio of transformative and integrative projects that create synergistic links by investigators across its three ECCS clusters: Communications, Circuits, and Sensing-Systems (CCSS), Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices (EPMD), and Energy, Power, Control, and Networks (EPCN), yielding novel ways of addressing challenges of engineering systems and networks. ECCS seeks proposals that are bold and ground-breaking, transcend the perspectives and approaches typical of disciplinary research efforts, and lead to disruptive technologies and methods or enable significant improvement in quality of life.

  • ASCENT supports fundamental research projects involving at least three collaborating PIs and co-PIs, up to four years in duration, with a total budget between $1 million and $1.5 million.
  • ASCENT proposals must highlight the engineering leadership focus of the proposal within the scope of ECCS programs.
  • ASCENT proposals must articulate a fundamental research problem with compelling intellectual challenge and significant societal impact. The topic at the heart of the proposal must lie within the scope of at least one of the three ECCS clusters (CCSS, EPMD, EPCN). Research proposals spanning multiple clusters are highly encouraged.
  • ASCENT proposals must demonstrate the need for a concerted research effort by an integrated and interdisciplinary team, and strongly justify the interdisciplinary nature of the proposed work. They should include a timeline for research activities, with a strong justification of the explicit mechanisms for frequent communication between team members and effective assessment to achieve proposed goals.

Assuming sufficient funding is provided in the NSF budget, it is anticipated that the ASCENT competition will continue with research themes and priorities subject to changing in the subsequent years.

Program contacts

Premjeet Chahal
pchahal@nsf.gov (703) 292-7264
Supriyo Bandyopadhyay
sbandyop@nsf.gov (703) 292-5392 ENG/ECCS
Aranya Chakrabortty
achakrab@nsf.gov (703) 292-8113
Jenshan Lin
jenlin@nsf.gov (703) 292-7360 ENG/ECCS
Usha Varshney
uvarshne@nsf.gov (703) 292-5385 ENG/ECCS

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