NSF seeks to strengthen the future U.S. Engineering workforce by enabling the participation of all citizens through the support of research in the science of Broadening Participation in Engineering (BPE). The BPE program is a dedicated to supporting the development of a diverse and well-prepared engineering workforce. BPE focuses on enhancing the diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented populations in engineering, including gender identity and expression, race and ethnicity (African Americans/Blacks, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Pacific Islanders), disability, LGBTQ+, first generation college and socio-economic status.
BPE funds research to
- Understand and analyze the systemic barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from pursuing and succeeding in engineering, for example, understand the problem of insufficient interest and poorly sustained participation in engineering across underrepresented demographic groups; insufficient preparation and scarce opportunities for members of underrepresented groups to learn meaningful, relevant engineering content.
- Understand and analyze factors that enhance our ability to increase access to engineering by creating support systems and social networks that raise career awareness about different engineering pathways.
- Develop innovative methods and projects to significantly impact the recruitment and retention of engineering students from underrepresented groups. Activities must be supported by relevant data and have the capability to produce a model that can be replicated in other contexts.
- Develop innovative methods and projects to aggressively recruit and retain tenure track faculty from underrepresented groups.
- Design and transform culture to make diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority in the engineering enterprise.
BPE research activities will provide scientific evidence that engineering educators, employers, and policy makers need to make informed decisions to design effective programs that broaden the participation of persons from historically underrepresented groups in the engineering workforce. BPE is interested in funding research that spans K-12 to workforce and offers the greatest return on investment. BPE funded research should produce outcomes that are scalable, sustainable, and applicable to various contexts, settings, and demographics within the engineering enterprise. BPE is particularly interested in research that employs intersectional approaches in recognition that gender, race and ethnicity do not exist in isolation from each other and from other categories of social identity.
BPE is equally interested in research activities that align with and provide meaningful connections to the NSF INCLUDES National Network. The overarching goal of NSF INCLUDES is to achieve significant impact at scale in transforming STEM education and workforce development by educating a diverse, STEM-capable workforce that includes talented individuals from all sectors of the Nation's population. Collaborations are encouraged between BPE proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, for example, the NSF INCLUDES Alliances and Coordination Hub, provided these collaborations strengthen both the BPE and NSF INCLUDES projects.
Before submitting a proposal to the BPE program, prospective Principal Investigators are strongly encouraged to speak to the program director to obtain guidance as to whether the proposed ideas are aligned with the strategic goals of the BPE program.
All BPE proposals should
- Be informed by the current theoretical and scientific literature as well as add to the extant knowledge base.
- Directly address how the work will broaden the participation of one or more underrepresented populations in engineering.
- Provide appropriate justification to support selection of the targeted group(s), with specific and applicable objectives, and demonstrate applicable knowledge of the relevant literature on underrepresentation.
- Integrate a mechanism to assess and evaluate how well the project has achieved the stated objectives as part of the project management plan.
- Provide evidence of clear, measurable outcomes and consideration of how the strategy will advance knowledge beyond localized contexts.
- Incorporate a dissemination plan that goes beyond publishing research papers and presenting at conferences. PIs should think creatively about who needs to hear about the research for it to have an impact, and develop a strategy to reach that audience.
- Describe how the outcomes have the potential to enhance diversity and inclusion of underrepresented populations in engineering.
- The Project Summary must contain a list of 3-5 keywords. Place the keywords on a separate line at the end of the Overview section of the Project Summary.
The average award size for a BPE research grant is $350,000 for 36 months. Principal Investigators who wish to submit a proposal with a budget greater than $350,000 must contact the cognizant program officer prior to submission. The BPE program does not provide support for undergraduate tuition.
Christine S. Grant