Writing a career award: think like an educator - PowerPoint Presentation

Writing a career award: think like an educator
Writing a career award: think like an educator

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George Porter gmportercsucsdedu 2018 NSF CAREER Workshop Brief Introduction My research focuses on highspeed networks and energyefficient processing of lots of data Graduated UC Berkeley 2008 ID: 802719 Download


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writing a career award:think like an educator

George Porter – gmporter@cs.ucsd.edu

2018 NSF CAREER Workshop




My research focuses on high-speed networks and energy-efficient processing of lots of data

Graduated UC Berkeley, 2008

Postdoc 2009—2010, UCSD

Asst. Research Scientist, 2010—2014

Asst. Professor, 2014—


My career award proposal


My career award proposal

"A Scalable Multiplane Data Center Network"

Observation: network switches can’t keep up with server demand due to limits of CMOS manufacturing process

Idea: Replace electronic switching with optical switching

Activities: Develop novel switches and use them to design new topologies and higher-level abstractions


My career award proposal

Commercial (~2010)

2D-MEMS (~2013)


enabled ToR switches


Non-crossbar (~2017)


Problem: the Environmental impact of “The cloud”

To build:

Google spends about $3B per year

Microsoft spent $15B in total

To operate:

1-2% of global energy consumption


91 billion kWh (34 500-MW coal-fired power plants)


By 2020



140 billion kWh (50 power plants)

$13 billion in electricity bills

100 metric tons of carbon pollution per year

LBNL, 2013

NRDC report


elements of your proposal

Some of these you are familiar with

From your Ph.D., writing papers, your dissertation,


Some are new

Broader impacts, integrating into education

Avoid over-focusing on the core idea while under-focusing on the remaining parts of the grant

Common problem!

Select a problem to solve

Establish that solving the problem is important and worthwhile

Come up with a good idea

How to evaluate the idea?

Integrating research into your teaching

Developing as an educator

How will your research have broader impacts to society?


problem selection

5-year plan

Very different than a conference or journal paper

Need a line of research goals, not a single result

Manage risk vs. reward

Related problems in a space vs. problems that build on top of each other

Hone the idea

Run it by people at conferences, email researchers in your field, …

Better to get feedback early than after the panel


Advice 1: know your audience

To date, you’ve likely been writing to subject specialists (conferences, journals, dissertation committee)

Now need to write to wider audience

It is OK to (briefly) summarize the foundation your idea is based on

In my proposal, background, motivation, related work, and problem setup was first 7 pages!

Technical “meat” began on page 7


Advice 2: Good technical ideas are necessary (but not sufficient!)

Grant proposals are evaluated differently than conference papers, journal submissions, etc.

Don’t take for granted that the reviewer will see the merit in the idea

Be as precise as you can to the benefits and limitations of your ideas

Make the case for how your discovery improves your field and/or the wider world

Support comes from taxpayer money, so the responsibility for justifying it falls on us!

My broader impacts/educational plan was 3 pages


Advice 3: Crafting your educational plan

“Professors are educators first, and researchers second”

– Randy H. Katz (UC Berkeley)

Need to educate your students, your community, the nation (by starting with the review panel!)

How can you improve your ability in this area?

It is a life-long process

Think beyond activities you do already

Advising students, teaching classes, …

Use the opportunity to potentially think of new ways of teaching

For me, maker courses + video explainers of the technology

Don’t forget to include in your budget your activities


Advocating and educating the public

You need to write an annual and final report

There can be many benefits of publishing beyond that, to the general community

Video explainers, website, interviews for the media, podcasts

Making course materials public or available for online education

Who better than us to make the case for our research?



Problem selection

Know your audience

Good ideas (alone) aren’t enough

Crafting your educational plan

Educating the public


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