University Park, Pennsylvania — Kathryn Jabrokow, professor of engineering design and mechanical engineering, was recently awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Director’s Award for being part of the team that created the Engineering Research Initiation (ERI) program.

Now in its second year, the ERI is focused on strengthening new researchers who have not previously received federal funding. This program is dedicated to “researchers not affiliated with ‘highly active’ R1 institutions” and supports researchers who are unlikely to apply for an NSF award.

“In engineering, we know there are some great faculty and students doing innovative research at some of our non-R1 schools,” said Jablokow. “How can we encourage submissions? That was really the idea behind [ERI]We know there are research ideas out there that deserve funding. ”

Jablokow is in his third year of a multi-year tenure as Program Director for NSF’s Engineering Design and Systems Engineering Program in the Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) Division. The impetus for founding ERI began early in his tenure, and the program took about a year to launch. The program has been very successful in its first award cycle, Jablokow said.

A key element in getting the program off the ground was to ensure it was broad-based and multi-disciplinary collaboration within CMMI, NSF’s engineering arm. the Electrical, Communication and Cyber ​​Systems Division (ECCS); and the Division of Chemicals, Biotechnology, Environmental and Transport Systems (CBET). The award-winning team included nearly a dozen program directors and other key members of his NSF staff.

“We are thrilled and honored to receive this award,” said Jablokow. “This gives us more visibility into what we create and helps show what teams within NSF are doing every day, including new cross-functional projects. It brings together the right kind of engineers to create something that will help a large group of new researchers bring their great ideas to NSF.”

The team was honored with the 2022 NSF Directors’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement at a ceremony held at NSF headquarters in July. It’s the first time in at least a year that Jablokow is actually in the building. After her two years of remote work minus one or two trips for tech support, Jablokow saw her office the next year and met her collaborators face-to-face. Nice to meet you, she said.

Applications for the second cycle of the ERI are now open and will close on October 11th. Faculty members at all Commonwealth campuses of Pennsylvania State University are eligible to apply, as long as they do not receive federal funding (some exceptions apply, so a potential researcher should submit her ERI request must read). Be careful).

“The great thing about the Engineering Research Initiation program is that it is only open to Commonwealth Campus faculty. This program is not open to the UP (University Park),” said a grant from the University College of Abington, Pennsylvania State University. Gold Relations Manager Lisa Wiedemer said. and the Penn State Great Valley. “All the proposals submitted come from institutions with relatively comparable resources, which really levels the playing field. We understand, and have traditionally viewed the Penn State campus as separate from the UP and other universities, and the Commonwealth campus has responded by doing great work for NSF. I hope it continues under the ERI.”

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