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Funding Opportunity


by SIOP Administrative Office

National Science Foundation Releases Solicitation for Future of Work at the Human - Technology Frontier: Advancing Cognitive and Physical Capabilities

On March 9, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a solicitation for “Future of Work at the Human - Technology Frontier: Advancing Cognitive and Physical Capabilities (FW-HTF).”

FW-HTF is one of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas and is focused on convergent research to better understand and advance the human-technology partnership.  This solicitation is the “centerpiece” of the FW-HTF Big Idea; focus areas within the solicitation may change on an annual basis.

FW-HTF is a cross-NSF activity that involves the Directorates for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE); Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE); Education and Human Resources (EHR); Engineering (ENG); and the Office of Integrative Activities (OIA).

The solicitation consists of two themes

  1. Foundations for Augmenting Human Cognition
  2. Embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistants

 Proposals are directed to consider the broad implications for FW-HTF advances on multiple scales as well as education and training issues.  The solicitation directs proposals to be creative, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary and to identify potential contributions toward:

  1. “transforming the frontiers of science and technology for human performance augmentation and workplace skill acquisition;
  2. improving both worker quality of life and employer financial metrics;
  3. enhancing the economic and social well-being of the country; and
  4. addressing societal needs through research on learning and instruction in the context of augmentation.”

Total Funding and Award Size:  Up to $27 million total funding is anticipated for this solicitation to support up to 24 awards; including up to 16 Small Awards and up to eight Large Awards.

Proposals must demonstrate the fundamental nature of the project and why it is distinct from development research supported by industry and by other funding agencies.

International and industrial partnerships are welcomed, along with proposals from minority-serving and predominantly undergraduate institutions.  Proposals are invited for:

  • Small Awards of $750,000 to $1.5million for three to five years;
  • Large Awards of $1.5 million to $3 million for three to five years.

Eligibility: There are no organization limits for this solicitation, but an individual may participate as PI, Co-PI, or Senior Personnel on only one proposal.

Due Date Letters of Intent are due April 16, 2018.  Full proposals are due June 4, 2018.

Additional Information on Solicitation Themes

Theme 1 Projects: Foundations for Augmenting Human Cognition, should focus on fundamental questions related to human cognitive systems in the work context to advance new knowledge in science, engineering, and education.  “Projects may also incorporate meaningful research collaborations in which hardware or software testbeds co-evolve with, and synergistically inform, augmentation of human cognition.”  Specifically, projects should support fundamental research on how human cognition can be “bolstered” with advanced technology and how work and society can be improved.

Theme 2 Projects: Embodied Intelligent Cognitive Assistants, must aim to improve the quality of life for workers as well as employer economic metrics.  Intelligent Cognitive Assistants (ICAs) are defined as external electronic devices, informed by the human brain with the aim of enhancing human capabilities.  This theme includes support to develop devices and systems, and utilizes “machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms, advanced multimodal sensing and high bandwidth communications capabilities.”  Within the solicitation, “Embodiment refers to the integration of perception and action in response to environmental and/or user stimuli. Theme 2 proposals must focus on (e-ICA) devices and systems that combine both perception and response.”  Examples of platforms or systems in which e-ICAs could be embodied include: “self-driving cars, communication systems, power grids, chemical processes and manufacturing plants, medical devices, transportation networks, smart homes, buildings and infrastructure, classrooms or other educational environments, aircraft and ships, and industrial or personal robots.”

Sources and Additional Background: