This workshop focuses on the professional development of materials science and engineering CAREER awardees in the third year of their award. The workshop programming will consist of a combination of talks from mentors (renowned scientists and educators) and NSF personnel, as well as panel discussions and interactive sessions with mentors. Workshop topics will include entrepreneurship, innovations in classroom teaching, pivoting to new research areas, career-life balance, and NSF initiatives and operations. Research scientists with experience and success in these areas will serve as speakers, panelists, and mentors. Establishing connections with these role models will not only provide an opportunity for career advice, but also provide opportunities to develop meaningful and sustained relationships. This workshop will also enable CAREER awardees to network amongst themselves to form meaningful relationships, which may lead to new research collaborations. The outcomes of this workshop are expected to provide important input for increasing the impact of future NSF workshops in a similar category.
NON-TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: The objective of this workshop is to assist CAREER awardees engaged in materials science and engineering research in continuing their paths to research and education leadership. The primary workshop participants will be third-year CAREER awardees from the Division of Materials Research as well as third-year CAREER awardees from other divisions who engage in materials-related research. The participants will be provided information about NSF operations, funding priorities, and other initiatives that will better position them to promote their research and take advantage of funding opportunities. Additionally, the participants will receive mentoring from renowned professors, department chairs, and former CAREER awardees, along with NSF program directors. This workshop will take place on June 17-18, 2013 at NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA.
The Faculty Early Career Development program is NSFâ€™s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. CAREER awards are given to PIs who are deemed to have the potential to be leaders in their field. However, not all CAREER awardees achieve their potential. Some of the reasons may be: a lack of mentorship and/or role models, not having the skills or confidence to pivot to new areas, lack of information on how to develop other creative outlets, like entrepreneurship, or trouble achieving the right work-life balance. This workshop sought to build upon NSFâ€™s initial investment in these early-career faculty and to assist CAREER awardees in continuing their paths to research and teaching leadership in their fields by providing them with information and support that would allow them to successfully transition beyond the CAREER award in terms of their ability to obtain further funding and become part of the next generation of leaders. The workshop aimed to accomplish this in two main ways. First, the participants (CAREER awardees involved in materials-related research and finishing the 3rd year of their award) were provided information about NSF operations, funding priorities, and initiatives that would better position them to promote their research and take advantage of funding opportunities. Secondly, the participants received mentoring from renowned professors, department chairs, and former CAREER awardees, along with NSF program directors. Establishing connections with these role models provided an opportunity for career advice that will hopefully develop into meaningful and sustained relationships. Additionally, we hope this workshop encouraged the CAREER awardees to network among themselves to form connections, which may lead to new research collaborations. Workshop Survey Results To quantify the outcome, a post-workshop survey was conducted. Respondents were asked the following question: "On a scale of 1 to 6 (1 = not at all confident and 6 = completely confident): To what extent do you feel confident in your ability to do the following things?" Respondents evaluated themselves on 13 skills. The responses of individual participants were tracked by anonymous identifiers, which allowed us to measure the change in confidence level from before the workshop to after the workshop for each person. The questions were geared towards gauging the participantsâ€™ gains in knowledge and confidence on the topics discussed during the workshop: 1) pivoting to new research areas, 2) commercializing research, 3) publicizing research and increasing visibility in the community, 4) developing strategies for promotion, 5) being competitive in future proposals, 6) balancing work and home and, 7) innovations in classroom teaching. Overall, comparing the mean level of confidence for each of the 13 questions before and after the survey, we found that the mean went up for all questions, indicating a greater degree of confidence on all fronts. The gains were highest (~1.0) in the areas of commercializing research, making effective use of social media and increasing visibility, utilizing knowledge of the budget process to enhance research, improving work-life balance, and being innovative in the classroom. Judging from the mean, the categories where the participants expressed least confidence were: commercializing research, using their knowledge of the NSF budget process and work-life balance. In most cases, the categories showing least gain in confidence (<0.5) were positively correlated with those where the initial level of confidence was already high, like pivoting to new research areas, being competitive in future proposals, and achieving tenure. Overall, the workshop was a great success. The panel recommends keeping this as part of the NSF programming.