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Renewal Policy on Chairs in Design Engineering


Renewing Chairs can continue to leverage industry cash and in-kind contributions, government cash and incremental university cash.

NSERC’s contributions to the Chairholder’s salary will be at most 25% of the salary (and benefit) costs. A decreasing scale of salary support over the five years is envisaged. An equal amount must be contributed by the Chair’s partners and is eligible for leverage. The remainder must be contributed by the University or partners, and is not eligible for leverage in the Chair.

The objectives for renewing Chairs are the same as for new Chairs. Chairs in Design Engineering (CDE) are focused on making a change in the training of design engineers at participating universities, and have a limited duration (10 years maximum).

The evaluation criteria are based on the same concepts as for new Chair applications; however, the progress made in the first term will be considered when evaluating the renewal application.


Chairs in Design Engineering (CDEs) are awarded for a five-year term. The central objective is to improve the quality of design engineering training in Canada. This grant allows universities to explore ways to achieve this, but is not intended as sustaining funding for design training activities. Given the typically four-year cycle of undergraduate training, one term is generally insufficient to demonstrate success with the Chair’s training initiatives, thus a single renewal for an additional five-year term is possible.

University contributions to the Chair’s salary, in excess of those potentially required to leverage NSERC’s contributions to the Chair’s salary, are not eligible for leverage in the second term of the Chair. Although the CDE policy indicates that in the second term there is a gradually decreasing NSERC contribution to salary (e.g., 45%, 37.5%, 25%, 12.5%, and 5%), any distribution over the five-year renewal term where NSERC pays at most 25% of the Chairholder’s salary and benefits (and the University pays for at least half of the Chairholder salary and benefits) is possible.

NSERC’s support for a CDE will be limited to ten years (i.e., two five-year terms).

Industrial Contributions

Industry benefits from the Highly Qualified People (HQP) trained by the Chairs in Design Engineering. It is important for the Chairs to involve Canadian industry in their programs. In the second term of a Chair, in-kind support from industrial partners (as a minimum) is required to demonstrate the close commitment of industry in the Chair program.

In-kind contributions can include company involvement in student design projects, company personnel contributing to university; as well as material, equipment, and personnel contributions to other aspects of the Chair’s program. Note that neither government nor university in-kind is eligible for leverage.

Carry-Over of Funds

Industry, government and university funds contributed to a Chair during the first term may be used in the second term; however, they are not eligible for leverage (matching) in any application for renewal. NSERC funds remaining in the Chair accounts at the end of the first term can be used in the second term; however, NSERC will reduce the magnitude of its award at the start of a second term by the amount of funds available at the end of the first term. Alternatively, left-over NSERC funds can be returned to NSERC, and full contributions by NSERC for the first year of the second term can be expected.

Renewal Process

Chairs reaching the end of their first term will be sent a letter outlining the possibility of renewal, and the key elements of the renewal process, including the information required. This letter also includes an attachment with information on the required Progress Report.

Chairholders applying for renewal of should submit a 48-month Progress Report and an application for Chair renewal (the same application format as for new applicants). The renewal application is required a minimum of six months before the end of the first term of the Chair (eight months is recommended).

The review criteria will be similar to those for new applicants, but will consider the progress by the Chair in its current term (see Evaluation Criteria for Chair Renewals).

A two- step peer review process will be used – expert review and then panel review. The expert review is focused on understanding the issues and opportunities in the context of the particular area which the Chair proposes to concentrate. The panel review provides for a contextual comparison of the relative benefits of investing further resources in the proposed renewal, as compared to funding a new Chair or other renewal applications.

Expert review: NSERC will use either an external (paper) review, or a site visit. NSERC’s choice of paper or site review is affected by such factors as progress in the first term, and complexity of the proposed renewal. The reviewers will be selected from industry, university, and other design-involved organizations for their expertise with respect to the proposed Chair’s program.

Panel review: The application, Progress Report, and external reviews/site visit report will be evaluated by a subcommittee of the Design Engineering Selection Panel. The subcommittee will include panel members who are not currently Chairholders.

For cases where the renewal timing does not coincide with a meeting of the panel, the renewal applications will be evaluated by teleconference.

A decision from NSERC on the renewal of the Chair is normally expected at least two months before the termination of the first term of the Chair.

Application Content

In the renewal application, the applicants should demonstrate how the second term will build on the first term’s work. The skill, background, and experience of the Chairholder must continue to be appropriate for these new objectives. A renewal application must have the same Chairholder. An application with a new Chairholder will be considered as a new application.

The renewal application should be supported by statements from the university, partner, student and other groups impacted by the achievements of the Chair’s first term. The Chairholder must also include a CV that clearly demonstrates the contributions to design engineering, design engineering training and design-oriented research. It is not necessary to use the NSERC Form 100 to present the CV; however, the following sections should be highlighted:

  • teaching
  • design
  • process
  • impacts
  • additional design expertise/experience

All relevant information about publications, including the dates and details of each paper (conference, journal, refereed, etc.), must be listed. Any relevant grant information, including the full amounts, must be included.

The renewal application must include letters of support from the partners for the Chair’s renewal, and a completed copy of Form 183A, Information Required from Organization Participating in Research Partnerships Programs, for each partner.

Evaluation Criteria for Chair Renewals

(Note: Differences in the criteria for evaluating new Chairs are presented in italics.)


Chairs in Design Engineering are expected to:

  • establish a creative and innovative undergraduate/graduate training program that gives engineering students the opportunity to experience a functioning design environment and provides them with the skills and knowledge required by the profession;
  • design and develop innovative products, processes and technologies;
  • establish effective multi-disciplinary design partnerships, teams and networks; and
  • act as advocates for design engineering, generating an increased awareness and appreciation in both the research and outside communities for all aspects of design engineering.


The evaluation criteria involve quantitative and qualitative assessments of the specific results, contributions and impacts achieved in the first term of the Chair, and to be achieved in the next term by the university's design strategy and the Chair's Action Plan in relation to each of the four equally weighted objectives. All relevant citations are expected to be incorporated into the proposal. The evaluation criteria also cover the Chairholder, the Chair structure and other arrangements that may affect the Chair's success and effectiveness. The specific criteria are:

University design strategy criteria

In this criteria, the impact of the Chair in its first term, as well as the plans for the proposed renewal, will be considered.

  • Relevance, significance and impact of the activities, contributions and expected results outlined in the university's design strategy supporting the program's contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel, design and development, collaboration and promotion objectives; and
  • Degree of innovation and creativity reflected in the university's design strategy.

Action Plan Criteria

In this criteria, the impact of the Chair in its first term, as well as the plans for the proposed renewal will be considered.

  • Relevance and effectiveness of the activities and contributions proposed in the Action Plan in support of the contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel, design and development, collaboration and promotion objectives;
  • Significance and impact of the anticipated results of the Action Plan and their contribution to achieving the CDE objectives;
  • Degree of innovation and creativity reflected in the Action Plan;
  • Likelihood of success in carrying out the proposed activities, producing the expected results and achieving the objectives of the program; and
  • Cost of the Action Plan in proportion to the scope and level of effort, and the significance, degree of innovation and likelihood of success of the Action Plan.

Chairholder Criteria

  • Excellence, suitability and effectiveness of the candidate to carry out the Action Plan successfully (i.e., to undertake the planned activities, to produce the intended results and contributions, and to achieve all of the objectives set out for the Chair); and
  • Suitability of position arrangements for enhancing the status, effectiveness and credibility of the candidate with industry, with university colleagues and with students.

The universities are required to provide quantitative and qualitative output measures and performance indicators, to be used for measuring and assessing progress and performance in the Chair's Action Plan, and for judging the significance, relevance and impact of the Chair's contributions to training, design and development, collaboration and promotion.

The achievements of renewing Chairs against these measures and indicators should be documented in their 48-month Progress Report.

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