source of engineering research funding and therefore critical to engineering education.
• State-level commitments to enhancing research capacity are uneven across the participating states. The effectiveness of state committees in NSF EPSCoR states is also uneven.
• There is considerable variation in agency programs, review processes, and the role and composition of state committees. Further, the NIH IDeA program does not formally involve the state committee in its implementation, although informal interactions do occur.
• The aggregate share of federal R&D to eligible states has not changed significantly over the course of the program. There is also considerable variation among states in their progress toward a more competitive posture. In the aggregate, eligible states continue to be less successful in garnering NSF funding than are other states.
• Nearly all participating states report positive cultural change in attitudes toward science and engineering as a consequence, at least in part, of EPSCoR programs. Similarly, they also report positive organizational, policy, and program changes that have enhanced their research environment. Further, there is evidence that research capacity in eligible states has increased (although not enough in most cases to change their relative standings). There is anecdotal evidence that EPSCoR programs have contributed to this result, but the magnitude of their contribution is difficult to determine.
• The evaluation efforts of the EPSCoR-type programs leave much to be desired. To date, such efforts have relied on incomplete and inconsistent assessment of program designs and on metrics that do not allow for comparisons of effectiveness.
The committee recommends that the federal government continue to promote the development of research capacity in every state so that all citizens across the nation have the opportunity to acquire the postsecondary education, skills, and experience they need to pursue productive and successful careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and to contribute fully to the nation’s research enterprise.
With that in mind, the committee recommends the following actions to create a more focused program with greater impact.
• EPSCoR programs should concentrate on the programs’ core elements:
oTo enhance research excellence through competitive processes.
oTo enhance capacity for postsecondary training in STEM fields.