National Science Foundation Comes To Villanova University

A National Science Foundation Principal Investigators’ Workshop was held on January 25 in Bartley Hall. The event was organized by Dr. Alfonso Ortega, associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Engineering. It brought together engineering faculty from all departments in the College of Engineering for an intensive workshop on engineering research at the NSF and a dialog on how Villanova can participate.

The goal of the workshop was to introduce faculty and principal investigators to the Engineering Directorate and provide practical advice and training on developing ideas and submitting proposals to NSF. Dr. Michael Reischman, deputy assistant director of the Engineering Directorate of NSF, gave an overview of relevant research programs’ strategic directions, and initiatives within the Directorate. Among the main priority areas within NSF that Dr. Reischman outlined were Energy, Water, and the Environment; Nanotechnology Manufacturing; Complexity in Engineering, especially Biological Systems; Competitive Manufacturing and Service Enterprises; and Cognitive Engineering, which is the intersection of engineering and the cognitive sciences.

Dr. Gary Gabriele, dean of Villanova’s College of Engineering and a former division director for the Engineering Education and Centers Division of NSF, led a discussion on engineering education, emphasizing areas such as research into how students learned engineering and its possible implications not only in higher education but also in K-12 education. He outlined funding opportunities for course curriculum and lab equipment, as well as for dissemination of knowledge and commercialization.

Dr. Ortega, a former program director at NSF in the Division of Chemical and Transport Systems, discussed NSF cross-cutting programs including the early career advancement program for young faculty (CAREER) and the program for research experiences for undergraduate students (REU). He led a discussion on logistical and practical issues related to the preparation and submission of proposals to the NSF.