NSF News

New NSF workforce development program opens new doors in emerging technology fields

ExLENT program offers workforce development opportunities to help individuals gain valuable work experience in emerging technology areas

The U.S. National Science Foundation today launches a new $30 million workforce development program, Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies, or ExLENT. The program will expand practical learning opportunities for individuals interested in entering or gaining more experience in emerging and novel technology areas such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, and semiconductors and microelectronics. With awards of up to $1 million over three years, the program will promote partnerships between organizations in emerging technology fields and those with expertise in workforce development. 

Using a cohort model and emphasizing the importance of mentorship, the ExLENT program will connect interested companies, governments and nonprofits with current and potential learners in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who are seeking paid opportunities to explore career paths and develop skills in emerging technology areas.  

"The ExLENT program offers a new pathway for individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences to gain on-the-job training in technologies that are critical to the nation's long-term competitiveness," said Erwin Gianchandani, NSF assistant director for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships. "This program acknowledges that traditional STEM education pathways are not by themselves sufficient to address the large workforce shortages that the nation faces today in emerging technology areas. Training individuals at any and all stages of their careers or with varying experience in the STEM workforce can ensure more equitable access to high-skill, well-paying STEM job opportunities." 

"Partnerships are the future of STEM innovation," said James L. Moore III, NSF assistant director for Education and Human Resources. "ExLENT's cohort and mentoring model will help so many individuals develop much-needed skills to support our STEM workforce needs, especially in areas of utmost importance to our nation’s prosperity and security." 

ExLENT offers three pathways for people with varying STEM experience levels including: 

Track: Pivots     
Provides current professionals in any field an experiential learning opportunity that builds the skills and competencies necessary to pivot into careers in emerging technology fields.    

Track: Beginnings    
Provides participants with limited STEM training an experiential learning opportunity to gain deeper knowledge and experience to pursue a career in an emerging technology field.   

Track: Explorations     
Provides participants with no prior STEM experience an experiential learning opportunity that builds interest, motivation, and knowledge in an emerging technology field and inspires them to further explore pathways to potential careers in these areas.  

ExLENT proposals are due March 2, 2023. For more information, visit Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT).

Learn more about the program by joining the Introduction to ExLENT Webinar
Nov 1, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. E.T.