Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering professor Sule Ozev was sought out by the National Science Foundation to organize and run a CAREER Award workshop at the Tempe Mission Palms in May. This NSF-funded educational workshop drew 100 faculty members who desired training in how to apply for this prestigious award.

The CAREER Award plays a very impactful part in the future of a faculty member. Ozev explains, “It is a very prestigious award and statistically speaking, if you get it, you are likely to be very successful in terms of research and university impact.” There is a strong correlation between the CAREER Award and recipients who receive tenure at a university.

Ozev, a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, was selected to organize the workshop because of her ample experience with previous panel and event organizing as well as winning the CAREER Award in 2006.  She has been at ASU since 2008 and recently made tenure.

The workshop was developed because, “The NSF feels that some professors may not have the necessary mentorship and guidance to write good proposals,” Ozev says. The 15-page document must reflect the professor’s vision for their long-term career. Their research agenda must be ambitious and original with impact beyond their discipline and into society.

Dealing with such an important award, the NSF decided to begin a series of workshops to provide the necessary instruction for young professors to produce their proposals in the correct format. This was the third workshop along these lines in the last three years, and it received a very positive response.

Ozev received many emails and letters from the faculty that attended expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the workshop. “They all feel that they have learned a lot from the workshop,” she says.

Recalling her own experience and the excitement at winning the CAREER Award, Ozev explains, “It’s really heartening to help these people learn and write their proposals and turn their ideas into grants.”

The NSF CAREER Award began in the 1980’s as a grant program to jumpstart a young faculty member’s research career. They are now trying to reach a broader range of professors, particularly underrepresented populations in terms of gender and ethnicity.

The Workshop provided some funding for professors to travel to Arizona. This helped boost the diversity of the workshop to about half of the participants from underrepresented groups. Ozev comments, “This was a big success.”

Originally intended for west-coast professors, the workshop received attendees from all over the country seeking instruction for the CAREER Award. Ozev worked with the program director of the NSF, Mohamed Gouda, and CNS Division Director, Keith Marzullo to organize the entire event.

“It provided good visibility for ASU,” says Ozev, “Dean Johnson got to introduce our school and our programs.” It was the first CAREER Award workshop that ASU had hosted. “It takes a lot of time and I’ve been very thankful to all the staff that have helped me,” explains Ozev. Electrical Engineering staff members, Nancy Osgood, Evie Selberg, and Margaret Creedon each played an integral role in assisting Ozev with the event.

The workshop included Ozev’s main presentation, a segment for three guest speakers who had received the CAREER Award, an explanation of how NSF panels work and what they are looking for, a mock panel and reversing roles to experience being a panelist with a sample proposal to look over with the NSF director. There was also a question and answer session at the end for the attendees to speak with the program directors.

The NSF is hoping to increase the frequency of the CAREER Award Workshops to include two each year. ASU recorded the workshop to use as a resource for new faculty that come to ASU and need guidance with their proposals.