News & Features

NSF Research Traineeship Award - Transforming STEM Graduate Education

werth NSF web

Sep.19, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship (NRT) program recently awarded the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering with a $3 million project to transform approaches to STEM graduate education, providing the next generation of scientific leaders with the skills necessary to tackle complex societal problems.

The award will provide 18 two-year graduate student fellowships.

Professor Charles Werth is the principal investigator of the project “Reducing Energy Barriers for Novel Water Supply Use in Sustainable Agriculture” and will develop and implement a graduate education traineeship model to prepare future leaders in the STEM workforce.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to develop a new graduate education program centered around challenges at the Food-Energy-Water-Systems (FEWS) nexus,” said Werth. “Students will learn how to harness renewable energy and use unconventional water resources for agriculture.”

This multidisciplinary project also involves a diverse team from across the Cockrell School of Engineering , The University of Texas at Austin, and outside of the university:

  • Lina Sela, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
  • Ben Leibowicz, Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Alex Huang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Keith Keitz, The McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Bridget Scanlon, Jackson School of Geosciences
  • David Eaton, LBJ School of Public Affairs
  • Ali Fares, Prairie View A&M University, Cooperative Agriculture Research Center

Over the next two years, Werth’s team will develop new courses and an associated FEWS certificate program. New professional development opportunities will also be offered so that graduate students can expand their STEM professional network and boost their workforce competitiveness.

In total, NSF awarded 17 projects, totaling $51 million. The awards aim to promote convergent research by addressing complex challenges facing society that require expertise and perspectives from multiple disciplines and stakeholders. A key component of the NRT awards is training students to work in these convergent spaces.

 Graduate recruitment for this new program will begin in spring 2019.