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Engineering Grants

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Engineering Grants


Federal Agency




National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 107-368, 42 U.S.C. 1861 et seq.






NSF's Directorate for Engineering (ENG) seeks to improve the quality of life and the economic strength of the Nation by fostering innovation, creativity, and excellence in engineering education and research. Specifically, ENG enables the Nation's long- term capacity to perform by: (1) Investing in the creation of new engineering knowledge and the development of human capital within disciplines and at their interfaces; (2) making critical investments to enable an intelligent, agile and adaptable physical infrastructure for engineering education and research; (3) improving the quality and effectiveness of engineering education and research through the integration of and systemic reform of these processes; and (4) enabling knowledge transfer connections among diverse constituencies and communities. Areas of research include: tissue engineering; metabolic pathway engineering; bioinformatics; protein drug processing, fluid flow; combustion; heat transfer; fuel cells; sensors; integrated modeling of the behavior of materials and structures; civil infrastructure; structures and mechanical systems; engineering in geologic materials; reducing risks of natural and technological hazards; enterprise-level integration technologies; innovative design strategies; manufacturing processes and materials; production systems; microelectronic, nanoelectronic, micromagnetic, photonic, and electromechanical devices and their integration into circuits and microsystems; design and analysis of systems and the convergence of control, communications and computation; Engineering Research Groups; Engineering Research Centers; Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers; Engineering Education; Human Resources Development; cross cutting activities and special studies and analyses. Support is also provided for undergraduate student research, graduate research fellowships, research equipment and instrumentation, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), and Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI). ENG also provides support for Foundation-wide programs including the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) Program, and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR).


Types of Assistance

Project Grants.


Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds may be used for paying costs to conduct research, such as salaries and wages, equipment and supplies, travel, publication costs, other direct costs, and indirect costs. This program does not provide support for inventions, product development, marketing, pilot plant efforts, technical assistance, or research requiring security classifications.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances. See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.


The proposal must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for colleges and universities and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None required for unsolicited proposals, but preliminary discussions with relevant National Science Foundation program officer, by telephone or mail, is encouraged if specific program information is needed. Special proposal competitions may specify preliminary proposal requirements. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-102. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure

Proposals must be submitted electronically via FastLane to the Engineering Programs and should follow the general instructions and guidelines in the NSF "Grant Proposal Guide." Research proposals for support under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program must be submitted in response to an annual solicitation. All proposals are acknowledged. These programs are subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedure

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals with the assistance and advice of scientists and engineers who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal, of prospective users of research results when appropriate, and of specialists in other Federal agencies when appropriate.


Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF utilizes Target Dates, Deadline Dates, and Submission Windows. Consult the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.F. for a further description of these types of due dates. See the Directorate's web pages for deadlines for unsolicited research proposals Proposers should contact the program officer listed under the Information Contacts section of this program for dates on specific programs.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Approximately 3 to 7 months.


The Principal Investigator may request, in writing, that the Foundation reconsider its action in declining any proposal, renewal, or continuing grant proposal.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)(Chapter II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information on the general NSF policy on cost-sharing. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a phased project program. Phase I is a feasibility study up to 6 months. Phase II is the principal research program for up to 24 months.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Normally 6 months to 3 years, occasionally longer.


Post Assistance Requirements


For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report. Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required. Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each grant to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the award was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the award and for 3 years thereafter.


Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants and Contracts) FY 07 $629,990,000; FY 08 est $636,870,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$5,000 to $4,000,000; $120,000.


Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2006, 9,427 proposals were received and 1,737 awards were made. In fiscal year 2007, 9,575 proposals were received and 1,958 awards were made, and in fiscal year 2008 approximately 9,890 proposals will be received and about 1,978 awards will be made.


Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

45 CFR Chapter VI; 48 CFR Chapter 25; "NSF Guide to Programs, fiscal year 2004," NSF 04-009 and "Grant Proposal Guide," selected solicitations include "Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs Phase I Solicitation," NSF 06-553; "Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER)," NSF 05-579; "Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI)," NSF 98-142; "Major Research Instrumentation (MRI)," NSF 05-515. For descriptions of ENG funding opportunities, please check the NSF Directorate for Engineering web site. The URL address is:


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

For information and publications: Dr. Donald Senich, Program Director, Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry, Directorate for Engineering, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-7082. E-mail:, NSF World Wide Web site, URL: http// For general inquiries:

Web Site Address


Related Programs

11.609, Measurement And Engineering Research And Standards
15.807, Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
47.074, Biological Sciences
47.075, Social, Behavioral, And Economic Sciences
47.076, Education And Human Resources
47.079, International Science And Engineering (Oise)
81.049, Office Of Science Financial Assistance Program
84.133, National Institute On Disability And Rehabilitation Research


Examples of Funded Projects

1) Cell-Based Sensors that link Nanotechnology with Microfluidics. (2) Nanostructural Engineering of Complex Functional Particles. (3) Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). (4) Rapid Fabrication of Non-Assembly Mechanisms with Embedded Components. (5) Development of Biosensors for Rapid Screening. (6) Health Monitoring of Critical Civil Infrastructure for Safety and Security. (7) Liquid Logic-The 3rd Wave in Electronics. (8) Internally Mounted Engines for Aircraft of the Future. (9) Particle Laden Tubeless Siphon With Applications to Homeland Defense. (10) MEMS Tuners for Multi-band High Efficiency Wireless Transmitters. (11) Nanotube-Based Electronic Pressure Sensor. (12) SBIR Research: Development of a Novel Sensing Material for Waterborne Pathogens.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals at its meeting on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. NSF continues to strengthen its internal processes to ensure that both of the merit review criteria are addressed when making funding decisions. In an effort to increase compliance with these requirements, the January 2002 issuance of the GPG incorporated revised proposal preparation guidelines relating to the development of the Project Summary and Project Description. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators (PIs) must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative. Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. It is believed that these changes to NSF proposal preparation and processing guidelines will more clearly articulate the importance of broader impacts to NSF-funded projects. The two National Science Board's approved merit review criteria are listed below (see the Grant Proposal Guide Chapter III.A for further information). The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society? NSF staff will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions: Integration of Research and Education. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitementofdiscoveryandenrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.


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