CMMI support for conferences


March 27, 2020

The Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation (CMMI) sponsors conferences that advance research aligned with topic areas supported by the Division. For NSF purposes, the term “workshop” is synonymous with the term “conference” for consistency with language in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide

Many CMMI-funded conferences are aimed at developing exciting visions for future research directions to enable new, actionable research agendas for the Division and community. Through conference funding, CMMI also strives to improve research capacity, share ideas across disciplines, facilitate the formation of new collaborative research teams, and/or train investigators in writing proposals for research funding.

Conference proposals to CMMI 
CMMI provides funding for conferences only in response to formal proposals submitted through the appropriate program. Funding for conferences is at the discretion of the Foundation and depends upon merit review of the proposed activities and the availability of funds. 

Conference proposals should be submitted at least a year in advance of the scheduled date to allow sufficient time for review and award, and subsequent time for conference planning, arrangements and conduct. 

Conference proposals should be framed in the context of the activities of the Division. Persons submitting proposals for conference funding should be cognizant of community efforts in related areas, including other recent conferences. Proposers should plan to engage all relevant stakeholders across academia, industry, and government. Proposed activities should foster a sense of collective ownership of the results. 

Principal Investigators (PIs) wishing to conduct a conference should discuss their idea and the following details with the cognizant Program Officer prior to proposal submission: 

  • The objective(s) of the conference, including specific questions or topics to be addressed.
  • The relationship of the conference activities to the stated objectives.
  • The relationship of the conference to the needs/interests of the supporting program(s) and CMMI as a whole.
  • An explanation of how the conference results will expand the boundaries of science or engineering.
  • The title, agenda, location, and date(s) for the proposed conference.
  • The proposed chairperson, members of organizing committees and their organizational affiliations.
  • A strategy for advertising or announcing the conference to the public and/or how participants will be invited.
  • A plan for dissemination of the conference results, and a timeline for dissemination.
  • A plan for assessing outcomes.

Refer to the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (Chapter II.E.7) for a comprehensive list of required elements for a conference proposal.

Merit review of conference proposals 
Requests for support should recognize that funding for conferences is quite limited. The requested award amount and duration should be sufficient to enable the PI(s) to complete all conference activities, including billings and payments, advertisement, report preparation, and dissemination.

Conference proposals requesting up to $50,000 are subject to internal merit review by the cognizant NSF Program Officer. Proposals requesting funding levels exceeding $50,000 up to $100,000 may, with the approval of the Division Director, be reviewed internally within the Division by multiple Program Officers. Proposals requesting funding levels that exceed $100,000 must undergo external merit review.

All conference proposals will be reviewed against both NSF merit review criteria. They must include separate Intellectual Merit and Broader Impact statements in the Project Summary and Project Description sections of the proposal and comply with all other requirements of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide, as noted earlier.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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