The National Science Foundation (NSF) is now accepting preliminary proposals for its fiscal 2017 INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) initiative. Preliminary proposals for Design and Development Launch Pilot projects are due Feb.14. Full proposals are due May 16. The solicitation seeks innovative proposals to broaden participation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The NSF announced its first INCLUDES awardees in fiscal 2016. Initial recipients comprised 40 Design and Development Launch Pilots, funded through two-year grants aimed at supporting projects with the potential to deliver prototypes for bold, new models that broaden participation in STEM. Those awardees will be eligible to compete for additional grants of $12.5 million to support multi-year NSF INCLUDES alliances that will scale up efforts to broaden STEM participation among underrepresented groups, including women, Hispanics, African-Americans, Native Americans, persons with disabilities, people from rural areas and people of low socioeconomic status. The alliance projects’ competition is expected to be announced later in 2017.
They also included 13 awards for conferences that will inform the development of backbone organizations to support a national network of NSF INCLUDES alliances and partnerships. Conferences will be held throughout this winter and spring.
In announcing the inaugural NSF INCLUDES awards, NSF Director France Córdova reflected on the promise of INCLUDES. "NSF INCLUDES aims to broaden participation in STEM by reaching populations traditionally underserved in science and engineering," Córdova said. "I'm gratified to see such a strong start to this program, which we hope will be an enduring investment in our nation's future in scientific discovery and technological innovation."
Four Presidential Awardees for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) alumni will direct pilot projects. Here are comments from each of them:
Dr. Ben Flores (PAESMEM 2008), Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso
Dr. Flores has teamed with partners at the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning to institutionalize his work to advance the diversity of the STEM workforce. Commenting on the effort, Flores said: “Underrepresented student talent abounds at two-year colleges, and mentoring is key to fully realize all this student potential. Our project aims to prepare a diverse future faculty population to use evidence-based teaching, mentoring and advising practices that yield greater learning, persistence and completion by two-year college students from a broad spectrum of backgrounds.”
Dr. Juan Gilbert (PAESMEM 2011), Chair, University of Florida Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering
Dr. Gilbert and Principal Investigator, Dr. Jerlando F.L. Jackson, chief research scientist and director of the Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will use their demonstration project to create the Consortium of Minority Doctoral Scholars (CMDS). Gilbert talked about the pilot’s goal: “The CMDS pilot will study data derived from the programs. We will identify the most effective strategies for mentoring, advising and training minority doctoral scholars. Our findings will lead to new approaches in accelerating a more diverse pool of STEM graduates and professionals at the Ph.D. level.”
Dr. Beth Olivares (PAESMEM 2013), Associate Dean for Diversity Initiatives; Director, David Kearns Center for Leadership & Diversity, University of Rochester
Dr. Olivares will use her demonstration grant from NSF INCLUDES to show the efficacy of involving faculty directly in the Upward Bound pre-college program. Olivares commented on the model program: “Compared to other Upward Bound programs nationwide, we’re fairly unique in that we have our own college faculty members teaching courses in science and mathematics. If the goal is to prepare students for college, they need to get to know college faculty, to help demystify the experience for them. If we could add this as a model for every Upward Bound program across the country, it would radically increase the number of minority and low-income students interested in science and engineering.”
National Society of Black Engineers (PAESMEM Organizational 2003)
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) joined with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers to develop “The 50K Coalition.” The 50K Coalition’s NSF INCLUDES grant will assist in its mission: increasing the number of undergraduate degrees awarded to women and minorities from 30,000 annually to 50,000 by 2025, a 66 percent increase. NSBE Executive Director Dr. Karl W. Reid noted that the award “validates our model of collaboration to increase diversity in engineering.” Reid, a member of the coalition’s Leadership Circle, added: “We will amplify the work in which coalition members are already engaged, through the collective tracking of the progress towards increasing AP® Calculus completion rates, high school graduation rates, undergraduate freshmen retention rates, community college transfer rates and the number of engineering degrees awarded to female, American Indian, African-American and Hispanic students in the United States. These data points, among others, will assist in developing The 50K Coalition Annual Engineering Scorecard, thus allowing for transparent, agile and coordinated activities as we collectively strive towards meeting our goal.”