PFE: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation

National Science Foundation (NSF)

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Grant amount: Up to US $200,000

Deadline: Feb 27, 2020

Applicant type: Faculty College / University

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: United States

Location of residency: United States

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Engineering faculty have deep understanding of their technical fields and the primary responsibility for educating future engineers. Engineering faculty have used novel classroom techniques or developed programs to enhance the education of their students, develop interest in engineering at the K12 level, and inform the public. Many of these faculty are interested in gathering evidence for the effectiveness of these practices or understanding the factors that affect their students’ learning. The Professional Formation of Engineers: Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (PFE: RIEF) program is designed to provide these faculty with the opportunity to conduct this research while at the same time being mentored on social science research approaches. The intent is that by the end of a PFE:RIEF project engineering faculty will be prepared to take a stronger leadership role in research on the professional formation of engineers, thus expanding the community of researcher

Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) refers to the formal and informal processes and value systems through which people become engineers. It also includes the ethical responsibility of practicing engineers to sustain and grow the profession in order to improve quality of life for all peoples. Processes of formation are holistic, carefully attending to how knowledge and personhood interrelate in the larger context of one’s career and life.

Professional Formation includes, but is not limited, to:

  • Introductions to the profession at any age;
  • Acquisition of deep technical and professional skills, knowledge, and abilities in both formal and informal settings/domains;
  • Development of outlooks, perspectives, ways of thinking, knowing, and doing;
  • Development of identity as an engineer and its intersection with other identities; and
  • Acculturation to the profession, its standards, and norms.

Research is welcome that considers the construction of engineering knowledge, engineering identity, and the engineering profession, as well as interventions that expand the boundaries of each of these.

Program Description

A wide range of research topics related to the Professional Formation of Engineers can be addressed in PFE: RIEF proposals; the emphasis of PFE: RIEF is on initiating research projects in professional formation of engineers rather than supporting research on any specific topic. PFE: RIEF projects should combine engineering approaches with those from learning and cognitive sciences, engineering education, social sciences, and related fields in synergistic ways and enable engineering faculty to develop expertise in engineering education research. PFE: RIEF awards are intended to expand the community of engineering faculty conducting research related to professional formation of engineers. Possible outcomes commensurate with the goals of this program are:

  • Support engineering faculty in developing expertise in professional formation of engineers.
  • Increase the number of faculty and universities who will initiate projects and programs in research on professional formation of engineers.

The intent of the PRE: RIEF program is to expand the community of engineering faculty conducting research related to engineering formation rather than create an additional funding channel for researchers with social science expertise.

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