America’s global competitiveness in science and engineering depends on sustaining and expanding its globally competent pool of science and engineering professionals, a growing challenge in today’s competitive marketplace. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Central Europe Summer Research Institute (CESRI) provided eight U.S. graduate students in the sciences and engineering with a high-quality international research experience in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland or Slovakia.
Two (2) CESRI grants were funded by DAAD and were specifically for CESRI Fellowships to Germany. The remaining six (6) CESRI grants were funded by NSF for the entire Central Europe region, with preference for grants to countries other than Germany.
The CESRI program was 8 weeks in length, with the first 4 days spent as a group in Budapest, Hungary in a specially designed cultural and academic orientation to the region. Participants spent the remaining 7.5 weeks working in individually-arranged placements in university labs or other appropriate sites where they could participate in creative research activities under the supervision of European mentors.
U.S. graduate students in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, and Mathematics were encouraged to apply. IIE conducted a national competition to select outstanding graduate students using a selection panel of faculty members in science and engineering fields.
The program was intended for scientific research projects; thus field-work, policy, ethics and related disciplines were not considered. Also, projects involving clinical research on human subjects were not accepted.
There were several preference factors, which included: proposals to countries that were under-represented in international scientific exchanges and individuals traditionally under-represented in the sciences. NSF GK-12 Fellows were specifically encouraged to apply for the NSF. However, the paramount preference factor was the quality of the proposed project.
Candidates were encouraged to establish relationships with research institutions or mentors in Central Europe that they felt best suited their interests and needs. IIE then made the formal arrangements to place selected candidates at these institutions.
In other cases, IIE placed students who did not have a pre-established institution/mentor relationship in research positions based upon the participant’s preferences and best academic fit for their needs. Consideration was also given to geographic balance and overall program diversity. In consultation with universities and colleague organizations such as the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), IIE identified appropriate institutions and faculty mentors to host selected candidates.
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent U.S. federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense.” With an annual budget of about $5.5 billion, they are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.
They fulfill their mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants – currently about 10,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years – to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge. NSF’s goal is to support the people, ideas and tools that together make discovery possible.
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the German national agency for the support of international academic cooperation. They offer programs and funding for students, faculty, researchers and others in higher education. They also represent the German higher education system abroad, promote Germany as an academic and research destination, and help build ties between institutions around the world.
The DAAD was founded in 1925 by the German student Carl Joachim Friedrich who was able to obtain 13 fellowships from the Institute of International Education for Germans in the social sciences to study in the US. From these early beginnings – and with a re-founding of the organization after World War II – the DAAD currently awards more than 65,000 fellowships a year and is the largest grantor of international academic mobility support in the world. Based in Bonn, DAAD now plays important roles in furthering the international aspects of German academic, cultural, and science policies; supporting the international relations of German colleges and universities through international exchange and programs; and maintaining a worldwide network of offices, guest professors, and alumni who offer information and assistance on a local level.