NSF launches trainee track to help prepare graduate students to enter STEM careers

The new track will expand the NSF Research Traineeship Program in key technology areas

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a new track of the NSF Research Traineeship program (NRT) designed to help graduate students at non-R1 institutions of higher education (IHEs) – institutions without high research activity – develop the skills, knowledge and competencies needed to pursue a range of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The NSF Research Traineeship Institutional Partnership Pilot (NRT-IPP) will catalyze a new partnership approach, bringing industry to the table to in turn enable students to receive industry-relevant experience in key technology areas as outlined in the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022."

The NRT program has long been dedicated to shaping and supporting effective training of students at the graduate level. The program focuses on high-priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas using comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. NRT-IPP advances these goals with further emphases on industry and specific focus areas within STEM. 

"The NRT-IPP program has the potential to develop sustainable programmatic capacity at IHEs to train the STEM workforce in key technology areas and for a range of career paths including industry," said Thyaga Nandagopal, director of the Division of Innovation and Technology Ecosystems within the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), which is co-leading this new initiative with the NSF Directorate for STEM Education (EDU.) "The program will also lead to development of successful models of collaboration between non-R1 institutions and institutions with active, successful NRT programs."

The program invites proposals to test, develop and implement innovative and effective STEM graduate education models leading to industry-relevant graduate programs at non-R1 institutions. These institutions will collaborate with industry partners and partners at IHEs who have successfully implemented or are implementing NRT projects in the chosen focus area(s) identified for this new track. 

"EDU is enthusiastic to collaborate with TIP for this initiative," said Jacqueline Huntoon, director of the Division of Graduate Education within EDU. "The NRT-IPP new program is based on partnerships, both within NSF and among institutions of higher education and industry. We anticipate that the connections that will develop through this program will generate great benefits to all involved. "

NRT-IPP is an example of a TIP pilot. TIP pilots provide an opportunity to learn from new approaches to help improve the agency's overall approach to funding research and innovation. A pilot involves defining and testing hypotheses and assessing the outcomes to determine whether the approach is worthy of further investment and scaling. This NRT-IIP pilot may subsequently be integrated as a separate track of the NRT program.

To learn more about NRT-IPP, please register to join a webinar on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. In this session, program directors will introduce the NRT-IPP, share about how to submit proposals and answer questions about the program.

For more information about TIP, visit new.nsf.gov/tip/latest.   

To learn more about NRT-IPP or to read the program solicitation, view the funding opportunity webpage.