NSF generates "new breed" of scientist & engineer

August 04, 1999

Nature does not align itself neatly into the pigeonholes of biology, chemistry, math, physics or engineering. Rather, the natural world crisscrosses disciplinary boundaries with complex abandon. And as our body of knowledge of this complexity increases, so does the requirement for a higher threshold of scientific competency and greater interdisciplinary skill among researchers and educators.

Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) awards to 21 doctorate-granting institutions, totaling $54.5 million over five years, specifically to stimulate and cultivate more well-rounded scientists and engineers with greater interdisciplinary competence.

"NSF has long recognized the demand for a high level of cross-disciplinary knowledge and expertise and is cultivating a 'new breed' of scientist and engineer through the IGERT program," said NSF's Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, Luther S. Williams.

This is the second year for these NSF training grants. Their intent is to produce scientists and engineers who are well-prepared for a broad spectrum of emerging career opportunities in industry, government and academe.

IGERT allows students an in-depth, multidisciplinary education through coursework and research experience. A high priority is placed on students' communication and teamwork skills, international awareness, experience with modern instrumentation and responsible conduct of research.

Rita Colwell, NSF director, says that the IGERT program is generating a culture change and new perspectives, for both students and faculty, on the role of researchers and their career opportunities.

"The interdisciplinary programs, and student internships in industry, government and abroad, provide new opportunities for students, faculty and institutions," Colwell told IGERT grantees at a recent meeting at NSF. "By building on the strengths of different departments and institutions, we are making graduate education more useful to students and more responsive to national needs," she said.

"IGERT is the first program to integrate education and research at the graduate level," Williams said. In 1998, the National Science Board recommended changes to the federal government-university partnership in graduate education, including tightening the integration of research and education, in part, to broaden the career options of graduates to extend beyond traditional academic positions. The National Academy of Science's Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), also recommended repairing the "misalignment" between how graduate students are trained and what employers seek. COSEPUP's 1995 report, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers, also recommended that communication and teamwork skills, multidisciplinary and applied research experience, and adaptability, be essential elements in training.

Graduate students supported under IGERT will be exposed to multidisciplinary graduate programs-- developed by the awardee institutions--in emerging areas of science and engineering, areas that percolate through traditional boundaries and unite faculty from several departments or institutions. Supported projects are based upon a multidisciplinary research theme and are organized around a diverse group of investigators. The projects will also offer experiences relevant to both academic and non-academic careers by linking graduate research with research in industry, national laboratories and other non-academic settings.

All NSF directorates are participating in support of the IGERT program, as well as NSF's Office of Polar Programs and the EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program office.
Editors: For more details about IGERT see: http://www.nsf.gov/igert/

Attachment: List of Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Grants

Integrative Graduate Education & Research Training Grants (1999)

This listing of the second round of IGERT awards includes award number, principal investigator, institution, and title. Abstracts can be accessed by award number on the world-wide web at: http://www.nsf.gov/verity/srchawdf.htm

National Science Foundation

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.