NSF invests $18.8M in inaugural cohort of projects enabling experiential learning in key technologies
The new Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) program invests in 27 teams to expand practical learning opportunities and grow talent nationwide.
The U.S. National Science Foundation announced the first Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) investment of $18.8 million to 27 teams at U.S. institutions of higher education, including teams led by minority-serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities. Each team will receive up to $1 million for up to three years.
ExLENT offers pathways for people with varying STEM experience levels. Of the 27 teams receiving ExLENT awards this round, nine received an award in the Pivots track, which provides current professionals in any field an experiential learning opportunity that builds the skills and competencies they need to pivot into careers in key technologies. The remaining 18 teams received awards in the Beginnings track. Teams in this track have some experience in STEM fields and will receive additional experiential learning opportunities to deepen their knowledge and skills in key technologies. ExLENT teams will build partnerships between organizations in key technologies and those with expertise in workforce development.
"NSF is pleased to offer these first-ever ExLENT awards to support the creation of new pathways 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 (TIP). "ExLENT will help ensure more equitable access to high-skill, well-paying STEM-driven jobs for workers at any and all stages of their careers or with varying experiences. ExLENT awardees will work toward ameliorating the large workforce shortages that the nation faces today in key technologies."
ExLENT uses a cohort model and emphasizes the importance of mentorship in achieving the program's goals. In the future, ExLENT will make awards to teams in an additional Explorations track. This track will provide participants with no prior STEM experience an experiential learning opportunity that builds interest, motivation and knowledge in a key technology area and inspires them to further explore different pathways to potential careers in these areas.
"As NSF seeks to support the development of these key technologies, similar support is needed to inspire, cultivate and grow a diverse STEM workforce that can contribute to such innovation," said James L. Moore III, NSF assistant director for STEM Education (EDU). "Through ExLENT, the 27 teams will expand learning opportunities while helping to build the needed professional knowledge, skills and relationships in these critical industries, all of which are areas of national priority."
(Awardees are grouped by track, then listed in alphabetical order by organization. The full award list can be found on NSF's website.)
- Chicago State University: Chicagoland Partnership for Semiconductor and Microelectronics Experiential Learning (NSF Award #2322734).
- Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute: Pivotal Pathways and Inclusive On-Ramps to Careers in Biomanufacturing (NSF Award #2322714).
- North Carolina State University: Enabling Access for Historically Underserved and Underrepresented Groups to Experiential Learning and Credentials in Artificial Intelligence (NSF Award #2321633).
- Rocky Mountain Institute: Energy Leadership Accelerator (NSF Award #2322741).
- University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus: Pivots: Energy Leadership Accelerator (NSF Award #2322740).
- University of Cincinnati: Reskilling Education Via Advanced Manufacturing Practicum (NSF Award #2322605).
- University of Florida: VETS-HASTE: Veterans SkillBridge through Industry based Hardware Security Training and Education (NSF Award #2322465).
- University of Rhode Island: Creating a Pathway to a Career in Quantum Information Science and Technology (NSF Award #2321413).
- Vanderbilt University: Coalition Responsible for Equitable Skills Training (NSF Award #2322341).
- Auburn University: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Community of Expertise in Quantum Information Science (EQUIS) Across the Southeastern United States (NSF Award #2322592).
- Carnegie Mellon University: Preparing Autistic Students for the AI Workforce (NSF Award #2322554).
- College of Southern Maryland: Democratizing Research and Experiential Education for Microelectronics (NSF Award #2322701).
- New York City College of Technology: Introducing Molecular Modeling Experiences to Underrepresented Students (NSF Award #2322496).
- Fisk University: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Community of Expertise in Quantum Information Science (EQUIS) Across the Southeastern United States (NSF Award #2322593).
- Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University: Experiential Learning on Digital Agriculture and Plant Phenotyping Technologies (DAPPT) (NSF Award #2322535)
- HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology: Experiential Learning for Emerging Biotechnology Careers (NSF Award #2322497)
- Illinois Institute of Technology: Sensor Technology as a Vehicle to Cultivate Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (NSF Award #2322772)
- Michigan Technological University: Beginnings: Experiential Learning for the Mechatronics Workforce in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan (NSF Award #2322532)
- Middle Tennessee State University: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Community of Expertise in Quantum Information Science (EQUIS) Across the Southeastern United States (NSF Award #2322591)
- MiraCosta College: Experiential Learning for Biomanufacturing Needs in Emerging Technologies (NSF Award #2322395)
- Montgomery College: Democratizing Research and Experiential Education for Microelectronics (NSF Award #2322700)
- Penn State: Preparing Autistic Students for the AI Workforce (NSF Award #2322555)
- Tennessee Technological University: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Community of Expertise in Quantum Information Science (EQUIS) Across the Southeastern United States (NSF Award #2322594)
- University of California, Berkeley: Workforce Innovation and Inclusion in Semiconductors and Emerging Research Areas (NSF Award #2322047)
- University of Louisiana at Lafayette: Addressing the Talent and Diversity Gap in Biotechnology Workforce (NSF Award #2322705)
- University of Maryland, College Park: Democratizing Research and Experiential Education for Microelectronics (NSF Award #2322699)
- University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Creating and Sustaining a Diverse Community of Expertise in Quantum Information Science (EQUIS) Across the Southeastern United States (NSF Award #2322590)
Launched by NSF's TIP and EDU directorates, the ExLENT program aims to expand practical learning opportunities for individuals interested in entering or gaining more experience in key technologies as outlined in the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," such as advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science and semiconductors and microelectronics.
To learn more about the ExLENT program, visit the ExLENT webpage.