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Brief History

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Fastlane electronic proposal submission system had its beginnings in the mid-1980's when initial plans for experiments in electronic proposal submission were developed. The EXPRES (Experimental Research in Electronic Submission) project, which began in 1986, resulted in the first awards (Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan) made for the purpose of developing an interoperable environment which would enable scientists and engineers to exchange multimedia documents freely among dissimilar hardware and software platforms. In 1988, a pilot program was begun to experiment with online proposal and forms submission. Finally, in 1994, an NSF task force on electronic proposal processing, after reviewing past experiments, recommended a new approach that included automating all business functions with the research, engineering and education communities. The project was named Fastlane and development was begun on six pilot applications. Today's Fastlane system is the result of considerable interactions with and comments from the higher education community. More information on the history of Fastlane is available at the Fastlane website.


While not without its share of problems in connection with access to and use of the World Wide Web, Fastlane has evolved to include many features designed to reduce the administration burden associated with proposal submissions. Some of the features of Fastlane include:

  • the ability to check on the status of proposals submitted to NSF and annual increments of funding
  • the capability of submitting electronic project reports
  • a feature that allows for electronic notifications and requests, such as supplements, no-cost extensions, and changes in objectives or scope of projects, and
  • allowing the storage of information used on NSF proposal forms.

With these features and more, the Fastlane system is being emulated by other Federal sponsors as they, too, prepare to create electronic proposal submission systems.

Using Fastlane

Please note that, as of October 1, 2000, NSF requires that ALL proposals be submitted electronically. If you are not a prior Fastlane user, it is recommended that you visit the Fastlane web site to familiarize yourself with the environment well before the anticipated submission date of proposals and contact the Office of Research Administration (ORA) with questions. Simply click on the icon below to learn more about or submit proposals using Fastlane.

WPI American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) Web Portal

The WPI American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) web portal provides the following information for the University's convenience in learning more about ARRA, identifying funding opportunities, and recognizing the additional terms and conditions that will attach to each ARRA funded program.  Please visit this portal often, as updates will be posted when they become available.

ARRA Links

Note: Additional ARRA documents, opportunities, and award terms and conditions will be posted as they become available.  Please feel free to contact OSP at resadm@wpi.edu with any questions and for assistance.

Resources for Training in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR)

As announced in an e-mail message to all faculty members on October 12, 2009 and posted on the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) website, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be requiring in all grant applications submitted as of January 4, 2010 that proposers certify that the institution has a plan "to provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers who will be supported by NSF to conduct research."

Given the impending deadline of January 4th 2010 to have in place a plan for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for faculty, post-doctoral associates, students and others engaged in research at WPI, we have adopted an interim plan which immediately satisfies the RCR requirements of the NSF.

The interim plan consists of online training modules of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI), which will be available for use by the WPI community.  Subsequent additional training will be developed and implemented in the coming months.

What Is CITI?

A collaborative effort between the University of Miami and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the CITI program started as a web-based training program in human research subjects protections.  Since its creation in 2000, CITI has added other critical compliance training modules, one of which is discipline-specific training in RCR, as follows:

  • Biological/Biomedical Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Physical Sciences
  • Social Sciences

Within each module, training in the core topics is provided:

  • Introduction to RCR
  • Authorship and Publication
  • Collaborative Research
  • Data Acquisition and Management
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Mentoring
  • Research Misconduct
  • Peer Review

WPI is in the process of subscribing to CITI, which will allow all members of the community to have access to relevant training modules.  In terms of meeting the compliance plan outlined above, all undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-doctoral research associates working on NSF-supported research programs will be required to "attend" each of the above modules within their specific discipline and pass the tests at the end of each core topic.

More information about the WPI RCR plan as well as instructions for accessing the CITI program will be provided in the near future.  As always, we welcome any comments and/or suggestions that you may be willing to provide. 

Online RCR Training Programs:


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