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Writing and Implementing Successful NSF S-STEM Proposals

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

New Engineering Educators Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1776.1 - 26.1776.11



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Paper Authors


Evelyn C. Brown East Carolina University

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Dr. Brown is a professor in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University. Most of her research is in the area of applying industrial engineering techniques to health care process improvement. However, she also does research in the area of STEM education. Dr. Brown has published education-related research in INFORMS Transactions on Education, Proceedings of the 2009 ASEE National Meeting, and Proceedings of the 2008 ASEE Southeast Section Meeting. She is PI on an active NSF S-STEM grant in the amount of $599,894.

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Mary A. Farwell East Carolina University

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Dr. Farwell is a Professor of Biology at East Carolina University, and is currently Assistant Vice-Chancellor in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. Her research program focused on biochemistry of cancer cells. She has had grant funding from the NIH, and is currently PI on an NSF S-STEM grant.

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Anthony M. Kennedy East Carolina University

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Anthony Kennedy is an associate professor of chemistry at East Carolina University. He is the lead investigator on an NSF S-STEM award for intended chemistry and physics majors, which targets first generation college students from eastern NC. He obtained his PhD and BS from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

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Writing and Implementing Successful NSF S-STEM ProposalsIn this paper, the authors provide specific guidelines on the approaches they used to write andimplement successful NSF S-STEM proposals. The NSF S-STEM program provides up to$600,000 in scholarship funding for academically talented, FAFSA-eligible students. Currently,there are 1,176 active S-STEM grants in the United States [1], with 80-100 additional awardsexpected following the August, 2014 submission deadline.At the authors’ university, three different faculty members have been successful in obtaining S-STEM funding over a period of four years. In 2011, the Department of Engineering obtained$599,894 to support a program that expands engineering in the state, particularly among the ruralpopulation in one region of the state. In 2012, the Department of Biology was provided with$599,945 to fund Biology students who are first-generation college students. In 2014, a facultymember in the Department of Chemistry, working with faculty from the Department of Physics,secured $620,833 to fund students majoring in chemistry or physics.This paper will provide useful information regarding the development and revising of these threesuccessful S-STEM proposals. It will also examine the impact these programs are having at thisinstitution and offer advice and lessons learned regarding the proposal process and theimplementation of S-STEM programs.For all three proposals, there were a number of commonalities that the authors believecontributed to the success of the proposals. Among these was a tie to STEM education andrelated literature that indicates how different types of activities and involvement impact studentsand their retention. For example, the work of Besterfield-Sacre et al. [2] indicates that anincrease in confidence and improvement in communication skills can result from experiencesthat requires students to communicate with other students. Additionally, MacGuire and Halpin[3] note that, in reference to the work of Tinto [4], “once at the university, the quality of theindividual’s interactions with others has a strong impact on persistence (p. 6)”. Related to thetypes of activities the authors included in their proposals, “vicarious experiences”, such asshadowing and observing, and “verbal persuasion”, such as the encouragement of faculty andother adults, have been shown to serve as significant contributors in the enhancement of self-efficacy [5].Additional information about the university and the characteristics it has that make it a candidatefor S-STEM awards will be shared. It is not possible to include details here without revealingthe school, so that information will only appear in the final paper. Other aspects of the paperinclude: learning communities, retention figures for the three programs, summarized GPA datafor the S-STEM participants, cohort bonding activities, and lessons learned.REFERENCES[1] NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Active Awards,, downloaded on10/14.2014.[2] Besterfield-Sacre, M. Amaya, N.Y., Shuman, L.J., Atman, C.J., Porter, R.L. (1998).Understanding student confidence as it relates to first year achievement. 28th Annual Frontiersin Education v(1) 258-263.[3] MacGuire, S. & Halpin, G. (1995). Factors related to persistence in engineering: results of aqualitative study. Presentation at Mid-South Research Association Meeting, Biloxi, MS.[4] Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college. 2nd edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.[5] Ponton, M.K., Edmister, J.H., Ukeiley, L.S., Seiner, J.M. (2001). Understanding the role ofself-efficacy in engineering education". Journal of Engineering Education 90(2), 247-251.

Brown, E. C., & Farwell, M. A., & Kennedy, A. M. (2015, June), Writing and Implementing Successful NSF S-STEM Proposals Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25112

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