Broader Impacts

The National Science Foundation is one of the primary funders of scientific research and it evaluates proposals according to two criteria: scientific merit and broader impact. The NSF defines broader impact as the societal benefit of scientific research and sets the following guidelines:

  • Full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in STEM
  • Improved STEM education and educator development at any level
  • Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology 
  • Improved well-being of individuals in society
  • Development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce
  • Increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others
  • Improved national security
  • Increased economic competitiveness of the United States
  • Enhanced infrastructure for research and education

Engineering Outreach staff supports the development of broader impact plans at the proposal writing phase and implementation through the Outreach Programs once grants are awarded. Columbia Engineering Outreach offers an integrated array of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs that support and diversify STEM education at all levels. Engineering Outreach aims to deliver new knowledge, shift attitudes, and inspire students to pursue STEM further - whether in high school, college, graduate school, or professionally.

Given Columbia’s location in New York City, and Harlem in particular, Columbia Engineering is uniquely positioned to work with local schools serving underrepresented students to broaden participation in STEM. Engineering Outreach partners with elementary, secondary, and high schools, as well as community colleges. Demographically, 88% of local students are Black or Hispanic and less than 45% are proficient in Math by grade eight. In other words: the students most under-represented in STEM fields make up the communities neighboring Columbia University.

Working across disciplines, departments, and schools enables Engineering Outreach to operate programs at scale, aggregate program outcomes, optimize university resources, and to sustain critical community partnerships.

Faculty members can find more information about proposal support here. To consult with Engineering Outreach on Broader Impacts for an upcoming proposal, please contact [email protected].