NSF IUSE / Professional Formation of Engineers: Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (NSF IUSE / PFE: RED)

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Program Summary 

Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (hereinafter referred to as RED) is designed to build upon previous efforts in engineering education research. Specifically, previous and ongoing evaluations of the NSF Engineering Education and Centers Division program and its predecessors, as well as those related programs in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources, have shown that prior investments have significantly improved the first year of engineering students’ experiences, incorporating engineering material, active learning approaches, design instruction, and a broad introduction to professional skills and a sense of professional practice – giving students an idea of what it means to become an engineer. Similarly, the senior year has seen notable change through capstone design experiences, which ask students to synthesize the technical knowledge, skills, and abilities they have gained with professional capacities, using reflective judgment to make decisions and communicate these effectively. However, this ideal of the senior year has not yet been fully realized, because many of the competencies required in capstone design, or required of professional engineers, are only partially introduced in the first year and not carried forward with significant emphasis through the sophomore and junior years.

The Directorates for Engineering (ENG) and Education and Human Resources (EHR) are funding projects as part of the RED program, in alignment with the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) framework and Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) initiative. These projects are designing revolutionary new approaches to engineering education, ranging from changing the canon of engineering to fundamentally altering the way courses are structured to creating new departmental structures and educational collaborations with industry. A common thread across these projects is a focus on organizational and cultural change within the departments, involving students, faculty, staff, and industry in rethinking what it means to provide an engineering program.

In order to continue to catalyze revolutionary approaches, while expanding the reach of those that have proved efficacious in particular contexts, the RED program supports three tracks: RED Innovation, RED Adaptation and Implementation (RED A&I) and RED Two-Year. RED Innovation projects will develop new, revolutionary approaches and change strategies that enable the transformation of undergraduate engineering education. RED Adaptation and Implementation projects will adapt and implement evidence-based organizational change strategies and actions to the local context, which helps propagate this transformation of undergraduate engineering education. RED Two-Year projects will develop radically new approaches among multiple two-year institutions to expand the path to engineering and engineering technology education. Projects in all tracks will include consideration of the cultural, organizational, structural, and pedagogical changes needed to transform the department to one in which students are engaged, develop their technical and professional skills, and establish identities as professional engineers or technologists. The focus of projects in all tracks should be on the department’s disciplinary courses and program. RED project initiatives are expected to be institutionalized at the end of the funding period.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST May 30, 2022

Sponsor Application Deadline: 5:00pm MST July 18, 2022

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Track:
    • Red Innovation
    • RED A&I
  • Project Plan (3 pages maximum): Include goals and objectives, specific actions, barriers, research plan, evaluation plan, mentoring plan and a sustainability, scaling and adaptation plan. See the NSF solicitation’s proposal preparation section for full details.
  • Project Team Description (1 page maximum): Describe the project team and external advisory board. Provide a clear description of who will be included, what they bring to the project, and how they will contribute.
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6746/home


For all tracks, the Principal Investigator must be a department chair/head (or equivalent) to provide leadership for the change process. Additionally, there must be a RED team that includes (at a minimum) an expert in engineering education research who can provide guidance on evidence-based practices, and an organizational change expert who can advise on strategies for developing a culture of change and on strategies for creating meaningful collective ownership of the effort among faculty, students, and staff. The engineering education and organizational change experts may be at different institutions from the proposing institution. Funding for these experts at other institutions may be supported as consultants, through a subaward, or through a separately submitted collaborative proposal.

An individual may be the PI or Co-PI for only one proposal.

Limited Submission Guidelines

An eligible institution may submit a maximum of two proposals among the tracks: RED Innovation Track or RED A&I Track; CU Boulder is not eligible for the RED Two-year Track.

Award Information

RED Innovation: $1,000,000 – $2,000,000 for a duration of up to 5 years

RED-A&I: $1,000,000 for a duration of up to 5 years

Estimated Number of Awards: 4 to 6 (2-3 RED Innovation and 2-3 RED-A&I)