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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Rolf Mueller
  • (540) 231-6005
  • Bevlee A Watford
  • Alexander Leonessa
Award Date:01/15/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 837,325
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 837,325
  • FY 2020=$837,325
Start Date:03/01/2020
End Date:02/28/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.079
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: IRES Track III: Bioinspired Autonomy in Natural Environments
Federal Award ID Number:1954172
DUNS ID:003137015
Parent DUNS ID:003137015
Program:IRES IGE - Track III: New Conc
Program Officer:
  • Fahmida Chowdhury
  • (703) 292-4672

Awardee Location

Street:Sponsored Programs 0170
Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Street:635 Price's Fork Road
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

This International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) project develops and implements a new model for transdisciplinary, international education in the area of bio-inspired engineering, potentially adaptable to other fields. IRES scholars under this program study autonomous mobility in complex natural environments based on flying/gliding rainforest animals with the help of an interdisciplinary mentor network located in Korea, Singapore, and Brunei. Each year, 10 graduate students (i.e., 30 over the entire project period) are recruited through broad advertising and a pool of 10+ feeder universities to ensure the IRES program can be integrated into the scholars' thesis research. A 13-week IRES summer program starts with an orientation week at the VT campus followed by a modular sequence of a setup period with an engineering mentor at either Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) or the National University of Singapore (NUS), a biology immersion in Borneo at the University of Brunei (UBD), and finally a data analysis/engineering integration module at KAIST or NUS. The proposed program will aid the development of a U.S. workforce with engineers who have the transdisciplinary and intercultural skills to pull together expertise and natural resources from around the world to solve complex, transdisciplinary problems. Targeted minority recruitment and a detailed dissemination plan will ensure that the project has a wide impact on a diverse talent pool. This IRES program implements a novel paradigm to bring international research experiences in STEM in line with the need of solving transdisciplinary challenges through global collaboration and the trend towards personalized learning. To achieve this, the paradigm introduces the following key elements to international research experiences and combines them in a novel manner: (i) focus on research and research-related professional development experiences that are well integrated into the IRES scholars' thesis research , (ii) leveraging a combination of natural and academic resources in a variety of sociocultural settings, (iii) mentor network offering students the opportunity to work with multiple mentors selected according to their needs at the different program stages, (iv) modular customizable approach to paths and schedules for individualized research experiences, (v) pervasive use of a social media many-to-many communication model to ensure coherence within each student cohort and its scientific and social communities, and (vi) constant engagement of students and mentors with the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) to accomplish the professional development goals. The ASEE PI will make sure that all involved faculty (U.S. and international) and students are aware of the professional development opportunities and challenges of the program and receive sound advice how to make best use of the provided opportunities and how to deal with the challenges. Through this project, achieving the scientific goal of autonomy in complex natural environments will have a transformative impact on societal challenges related to environmental monitoring and clean-up, precision agriculture and forestry, and novel forms of autonomous transportation. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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