NSF News

Exploring how future tech can benefit people in the workplace — NSF greenlights 14 new 'Future of Work' research projects

The U.S. National Science Foundation will invest more than $29 million in research projects designed to increase opportunities for U.S. workers and generate positive societal and economic impacts at the local and national level. Researchers in 17 states will examine subjects including the health and safety on construction sites, training and well-being in the childcare industry, and time-sensitive medical decision-making. The projects are supported by the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program, one of NSF's 10 Big Ideas initiatives launched in 2017 to foster bold research at the frontiers of science and engineering.

Scientists and engineers will collaborate on 14 projects exploring a broad range of people-focused studies with the potential to enable new methods and technologies that can enhance public health and well-being, increase worker safety, and open rewarding new career paths in fields like heavy construction, education and transportation. The projects include research on new sensors and robotics that can improve the health and safety of construction workers, developing technologies for the childcare industry that benefit children and caregivers, and artificial intelligence-based methods to help medical professionals make accurate and informed decisions.

The three-year projects will be led by 23 institutions and organizations in 17 states, including two within NSF's EPSCoR program, which supports areas in the U.S. that have historically received less federal support for research and development.

"NSF is catalyzing cutting edge research and innovation across disciplines — where people and technology interact in the workplace," says NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "These projects are leveraging science and engineering to shape a safer, more equitable future of work with opportunities for all."

In addition to the 14 research projects, NSF will provide smaller development grants supporting 27 projects studying the feasibility of research on topics including how people use technology in the workplace, augmentations to human performance, and methods to instill lifelong skill-learning through education and training.

For more information including a complete list of projects, visit the Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier program webpage.