NSF Awards Grants For Integrative Innovation In Graduate Education

September 28, 1998

The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced the awarding of $40.5 million over five years to 17 doctorate-granting institutions to promote integrative graduate education and research training. These training grants are intended to produce a diverse group of engineers and scientists well-prepared for a broad spectrum of emerging career opportunities in industry, government and academe.

NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grants will provide students with an in-depth, multidisciplinary education through coursework and research experience. In addition, career development will be emphasized by the high priority placed on students' communication and teamwork skills, experience with modern instrumentation, responsible conduct of research and international awareness.

"A new pedagogical approach is needed to meet the needs of tomorrow's Ph.D.s," said NSF acting deputy director Joseph Bordogna. "As well as being astute in a discipline, they must also be prepared to address intellectual issues that transcend disciplinary boundaries, since much new knowledge is increasingly created at the interfaces of traditional disciplines. The IGERT investment is an attempt to develop educational models toward this end, with a direct focus on the integration of education and research," he said.

The resulting programs 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.

NSF's Assistant Director of Education and Human Resources, Luther Williams, described the agency-wide program as being consistent with NSF's overall education agenda to encourage change at all levels of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. "IGERT is the first NSF program to demonstrate concretely NSF's strategic goal to integrate education and research at the graduate level, consistent with the National Science Board's commitment," Williams noted of the Board's recent recommendation on graduate education. "Further, through collaborations between academe and industry, graduates will be well-positioned to take the lead in facing multidisciplinary challenges of the future," he said.

IGERT also responds, in part, to recommendations of the National Academy of Science's Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP), whose 1995 report, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers, advised repairing the "misalignment" between how graduate students are trained and what employers seek. COSEPUP identified communication and teamwork skills, multidisciplinary and applied research experience, and adaptability as essential elements in training.

Graduate students supported under these traineeships will be exposed to multidisciplinary graduate programs?developed by the awardee institutions?in emerging areas of science and engineering, areas that penetrate traditional boundaries and unite faculty from several departments and/or institutions. Supported projects are based upon a multidisciplinary research theme and organized around a diverse group of investigators from U.S. doctorate-granting institutions.

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

National Science Foundation

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