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Chairs in Design Engineering (CDE) Guide for Applicants

General information

About the grant

Read the grant description in the Program Guide for Professors before completing the application.

Who completes the application?

There are two sections to the application. The person submitting a CDE proposal (the "applicant" on an Application for a Grant [Form 101]) must hold a senior administrative position in the university (such as department head, dean, vice-president or president), with direct or ultimate management responsibility for the proposed Chairholder(s). The applicant cannot be the Chair candidate or, for a renewal application, the current Chairholder. Applicants are encouraged to contact NSERC staff before submitting a proposal.

The applicant, as described above, must complete the first section of the application and include all required documentation. The second section must be completed by the Chair candidate(s). In addition, the Personal Data Form (Form 100 or CV) must be completed by each Chair candidate.

Presentation standards

The applicant is responsible for submitting a complete application that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. Incomplete applications and applications that do not meet the presentation standards may be rejected or be at a disadvantage in comparison with those that are complete and respect the presentation standards. Where page limits are stated, pages in excess of the number permitted will be removed.

For more information, read the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Application deadlines

Your application must be received at your institution’s research grants office by their internal deadline date; contact your research grants office for those deadlines.

For programs with deadlines, the application must be received at NSERC by 5:00 p.m. local time (at your location) on the deadline date. If it is not received by the deadline, it will be considered late and will be rejected. Application deadlines are indicated in each of the program descriptions, as well as on the Application Deadlines and Notification of Decision page.

Material or updates received under separate cover (before or after the deadline date) will not be accepted.

Personal information

The collection, use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC are outlined in the following policy statements:

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. NSERC is subject to the This link will take you to another Web site Access to Information Act and the This link will take you to another Web site Privacy Act . The information you provide is stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Information about programs and information holdings.

Help with program information

Contact the staff responsible for the program to which you are applying.

Information required from organizations participating in research partnerships (Form 183A)

See the instructions for completing Form 183A.

It is very important that the letters from the supporting organizations address the points outlined in the instructions for Form 183A.

Application instructions

Application profile

Title of Chair in Design Engineering

The title of the Chair in Design Engineering will be used for publication purposes and must adhere to a specific format. The convention to be followed for the title of the Chair in Design Engineering is as follows:

NSERC/Supporting Org 1/Supporting Org 2/etc. Chair in Design Engineering in “Title”


NSERC/Supporting Org 1 Chair in “Title” Design Engineering

The title must begin with the word “NSERC,” and may contain the names of other supporting organizations, if appropriate (see Notes below). “NSERC” and each of the names of the supporting organizations must be separated by a forward slash (/), for instance, NSERC/IBM. In the event that there are multiple supporting organizations, the organization names must each be separated by a forward slash, for instance, NSERC/Bell/IBM. “NSERC” and the names of the supporting organizations must be followed by “Chair in Design Engineering” and the subject of the program to be established. Scientific symbols or acronyms in the title must be spelled out.

The following are examples of valid titles: NSERC/Quanser Chair in Engineering Design for Innovation, NSERC Chair in Design Engineering, NSERC Chair in Innovative Design Engineering.


  • The addition of supporting organization names in the title is at the discretion of the university with input from the supporting organizations. There is no requirement by NSERC to include any of the supporting organizations in the title.
  • Where there is more than one Chairholder in the Chair program, each of the Chairholders should use the same title.

Areas of research

Research subject codes

Consult the NSERC Code Tables. All applicants are required to select a primary research code.

Area of application codes

Consult the NSERC Code Tables. All applicants are required to select a primary area of application code from the list of Area of Application Codes.

Key words

Provide a maximum of 10 key words that describe the proposal.


Before completing this page, consult the Policies and Guidelines of the Program Guide for Professors concerning the requirements for certain types of research.

Research involving humans

If you check the box of Form 101 (form-fillable), you must provide your institution's administration with the appropriate certification indicating that research involving humans has been reviewed and has received the required approval.

Research involving human pluripotent stem cells

If you check the box of Form 101 (form-fillable), or if through peer review the application is found to fall into this category and is recommended for funding, it will be forwarded, with your consent, to CIHR’s Stem Cell Oversight Committee (SCOC) to ensure compliance with This link will take you to another Web site Chapter 12, Section F of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). The SCOC review is in addition to the normal review by local Research Ethics Boards (REBs). Funding will not be released until approval has been obtained from the SCOC.

Research involving the use of animals

If you check the box of Form 101 (form-fillable), you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the animal care committee at the institution that the experimental procedures proposed have been approved and that the care and treatment of animals is in accordance with the principles outlined in the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) guide.

Research involving hazardous substances

If you check the box of Form 101 (form-fillable), you must provide your institution's administration with the certification from the biosafety committee at the institution that the laboratory procedures being used comply with the safety precautions necessary for the level of containment required by the research.

Environmental impact

The Environmental Information Form (Appendix A) may be required. For more information, consult NSERC’s Guidelines on Environmental Review and Assessment.

List of Chair candidates

Enter the name(s) of the Chair candidate(s).

Universities may nominate one Chair candidate or two co-Chair candidates. Enter the time devoted by each Chair Candidate (in hours per month) to the proposed Action Plan.

A Chair may have a number of “satellite” positions attached to it to allow the Chairholder(s) to recruit different design experts from inside and outside the university for certain periods of time, depending on the Action Plan requirements. There may be a need for “horizontal” product- or problem-oriented Chairs (covering a number of disciplines and departments), or “vertical” discipline-based Design Engineering Chairs (dedicated to a single discipline or department). Another variation might be a Chair and co-Chair arrangement, involving a tenured “academic” Chairholder with an adjunct professor from industry as the “industrial” co-Chair.

Supporting organizations

For supporting organizations (such as an industrial partner or a government department), enter information about the authorized representative(s).

If the application is being submitted in paper format, a signature must be provided by an authorized representative of each supporting organization (such as an industrial partner or a government department).

Summary of proposal

The summary is intended to explain the proposal in language that the public can understand.

Using simple terms, outline the proposed Action Plan activities and their expected impact in relation to the four objectives of the Chairs in Design Engineering Program.

If you wish, you may also provide a summary in the other official language in the text box identified for that purpose.

Proposed expenditures

Before completing this page, read the instructions and consult the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide for information about the eligibility of expenditures for the direct costs of research and the regulations governing the use of grant funds.

The overall support (combined salary and Action Plan portions) to the Chair budget by the eligible supporting organization(s) must equal or exceed the amount requested from NSERC. The NSERC versus partner funding distribution between the salary and program components may vary year to year. The NSERC manager responsible for your grant will assist in establishing the ratios upon releasing the funds, if successfully awarded.

Specific to the Chairs in Design Engineering, NSERC will allow administrative expenses up to 10% of the total cash contributions to the project from all sources. This is in recognition of the substantial administrative tasks required to support the many interactions with partners typical of Chairs in Design Engineering involved with undergraduate design projects.

It is NSERC’s expectation that if more than one Chairholder is proposed, the Chairs will work jointly on the proposed Action Plan, but may receive different salary amounts. 

Use the budget tables in Form 101 (form fillable) to list the following for each year of the grant:

  • Salary costs: Chairholder(s)' salary, including benefits. Please note that this salary will not be indexed for increases in cost of living or progression through the ranks. Any such increases would be paid by the university outside of the Chair in Design Engineering budget. However, Chairs that renew may reset the salary to account for nominal salary increases that would have been paid by the university during the first term for the purposes of calculating the salary funding of the second term.
  • Action Plan costs: Direct costs of the Action Plan activities for each of the following categories and corresponding sub-categories: Salaries and Benefits; Equipment or Facility; Materials and Supplies; Travel; and Dissemination Costs, including: Allocation of the replacement salary for internal candidates (university in-kind contribution). Universities proposing an internal candidate must agree to use the candidate's released salary funds (or an equivalent amount) for a salary commitment to additional design engineering positions attached to, or collaborating with, the Chair, or for Chair Action Plan activities.

Budget justification

Use additional pages to explain and justify the need for each item listed in the Action Plan costs.

Provide sufficient information to allow reviewers to assess whether the resources requested are appropriate, clearly linking the expenses to the proposed Action Plan activities.

Salaries and benefits

Give the categories of employment and proposed salaries (including non-discretionary benefits) of students, postdoctoral fellows, research, administrative and project management staff. Describe the roles of any undergraduate or graduate students, or postdoctoral fellows who will be participating in the Action Plan. Any additional salary requests for support staff specifically required to help achieve the program outcomes (research associates/assistants, technicians, administrative or other professional staff) must be clearly justified and their roles explained.

Equipment or facility

Give a breakdown of the items requested. Provide details on models, manufacturers, prices and applicable taxes. Justify the need for each item requested.

Fees to be paid for the use of equipment or a facility should be described (e.g., hours and rate).

Note: Equipment purchases from an industrial partner are not an eligible program cost.

Materials and supplies

Provide details and explain major items.


Explain briefly how each activity relates to the proposed Action Plan activities.


Provide details of publication costs, user workshops or other activities.

Other expenses

List all items not relevant to previous categories, and provide a brief explanation for major items.

Contributions from supporting organizations – attachment

For the Chairs in Design Engineering grants, NSERC will match cash contributions from sponsoring private and public sector organizations up to a maximum of $200,000 per year, or $1 million over the five-year term of the Chair.

Although cash support from industry for the Chair is highly desirable, it is not mandatory, provided the total funding available is adequate to support the Chair salary component and the Chair Action Plan. NSERC will accept, for matching purposes, funding from sources other than the federal granting agencies, including incremental contributions from the university itself, industry, government, or any other private or public sector organization. NSERC expects that that in-kind support will be provided by the Chair’s industrial partners. NSERC may consider matching in-kind contributions consisting of staff time, salaries, equipment and any other resources provided by the industrial partners of the Chair. The total eligible matching commitment in any five-year term must be at least equal to NSERC's commitment during the same period. To be considered “cash equivalent,” the in-kind contribution, in the form of goods or services, must represent an incremental expense that the supporting organization would not incur outside of the Chair program, and would have to be purchased with grant funds if not donated. (Please consult NSERC staff to determine whether “cash equivalent” in-kind contributions by an industrial partner may be considered for NSERC leveraging.) Note that eligible cash contributions from supporting organizations must be deposited in a university grant account.

If additional financial commitments are secured after the Chair has started, NSERC will consider adjusting its level of funding (up to the maximum totals) on an annual basis. Requests for additional matching funding from NSERC (up to the maximum totals) should be supported by a full description of the incremental impact that will result from the additional funding, and by a revised budget.

List all contributions from organizations that are eligible for matching funding, and from other supporting organizations that are not eligible for matching funding by NSERC. For each supporting organization, list:

  • all the cash contributions to the Chair (do not include contributions to university overhead);
  • all "cash equivalent" in-kind contributions, if applicable. Explain the rationale for including this contribution as a "cash equivalent" in-kind contribution. Justify the value of each item. Clearly show that this contribution represents an incremental expense that the supporting organization would not incur outside of the Chair program;
  • all other in-kind contributions, if applicable. Clearly indicate how this contribution will enhance the overall quality of the program. Although these contributions may not be eligible for matching funding by NSERC, they indicate a level of commitment from the supporting organizations that can add strength to the proposal;
  • contributions to university overhead (optional).

If listing more than one supporting organization, complete a Contributions from Supporting Organizations Form (form-fillable) for each organization and include it/them with your submitted application.

Form 183A and letter of support (and attachments, as required)

See instructions for completing Form 183A.

A completed Form 183A, letter of support and any other required documents must be attached for each participating organization. Either the applicant or the supporting organization must complete all applicable pages of the form and provide the required documents.

Intellectual property

Discuss plans for the protection and disposition of intellectual property arising from the grant. Outline the broad terms of the agreement between supporting organizations and academic institutions on the rights to exploit the research results, and on the freedom to publish. (See the Policy on Intellectual Property in the Program Guide for Professors.)

Intellectual property – attachment

If available, include a copy of the research or intellectual property agreement that exists between the academic institution and any supporting organizations (see Policy on Intellectual Property in the Program Guide for Professors).

An application will be accepted even if a signed copy of the Intellectual Property Agreement between the industrial supporting organization(s) and the university is not available at the time of submission (the Agreement can be sent as a follow-up). However, if the grant is awarded, and if considered necessary, a signed Agreement must be provided to NSERC for review before funds can be released. Such agreements are considered confidential and are not made available to peer reviewers.


Note that there are two sections to this document: the first section must be completed by the applicant (University representative such as dean, vice-president or president) and the second must be completed by the Chair candidate(s).

Refer to the Chairs in Design Engineering (CDE) Selection criteria for a list of criteria that will be used to evaluate the application.

Apart from the basic structure outlined below, the proposal is free-form. It allows the university the flexibility to be creative and innovative in structuring the Chair and the Chair's Action Plan. The university should make the best possible case for the establishment of the best possible Chair, in line with the university's goals, priorities and resources. 

The proposal itself must be structured with the following sections:

  • Summary (using Form 101)
  • Detailed budget (using Form 101)
  • University's design strategy
  • Chairholder information
  • Chair's Action Plan – The Chair's Action Plan consists of four elements:
    • Training of highly qualified personnel
    • Design and development
    • Collaboration
    • Promotion
  • Metrics and performance indicators
  • Candidate(s) CV or Form 100

Section1: to be completed by the applicant

University's design strategy (up to two pages)

The university should outline its design strategy, noting:

  • the overall vision for engineering in the university and how design engineering and the design engineering Chair support that vision;
  • the general nature and level of current design engineering teaching, design engineering activity and other design-related or design-oriented activities within the university;
  • the university's design philosophy and strategy, and activities undertaken by the university to promote design engineering, enhance design engineering activity and raise the profile and prestige of design engineering within the university;
  • the anticipated evolution of design engineering teaching and design activity, including plans for expansion, enhancements and other changes in current design engineering activities;
  • the university’s contributions in support of the proposed Action Plan (contribution to the training of highly qualified personnel, design and development, collaboration and promotion activities);
  • previous and anticipated contributions by the university and/or the candidate(s) in support of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA).

Chairholder information (up to one page)

The purpose of this section is to demonstrate that the proposed candidate(s) have the necessary level and quality of engineering design and teaching experience, as well as the professional and personal skills and attributes, to enhance the university's design activities and to accomplish the CDE objectives and Action Plan; as well as the sustainability of position arrangements for enhancing the status, effectiveness and credibility of the candidate(s) within the university and within the design community outside the university. This section explains, and makes the case for, the proposed Chair candidate(s) and the candidate(s)’ status, rank, title, terms of employment and remuneration. Summarize and explain why the university feels the proposed candidate(s) are the best possible candidate(s). Describe the nature of the position(s) to be created; the qualifications, background and personal qualities of the candidate(s); and how these match the requirements of the position(s). Note that the proposed Chairholder(s) must be engineer(s) eligible to hold a Professional Engineering designation.

Section 2: to be completed by the Chair candidate(s)

Chair Action Plan (up to 10 pages)

The Action Plan details the activities and contributions to be undertaken by the Chair(s) in response to each of the four CDE objectives. All relevant citations are expected to be incorporated into the proposal. It is expected that some of the proposed activities will be in support of more than one objective. For each of the four elements of the Action Plan, discuss:

  • the activities proposed to meet the CDE objectives;
  • the anticipated results, outcomes and contributions of the Chair(s), as well as the significance, relevance and impact of those results with respect to the objectives;
  • the degree of innovation and creativity in each of the activities;
  • any potential problems or risks that may delay or prevent completion of the proposed activities as planned;
  • the integration of research activities with the Action Plan;
  • plans for peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed publications and presentations;
  • the scale and level of effort envisaged (people, resources, time, students involved, etc.) and the budget needed to carry out the activities;
  • how the Action Plan incorporates considerations of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Metrics and performance indicators (one page)

Include, in tabular form, a list of the milestones, initiation and completion dates, and performance indicators organized by objective. Provide quantitative and qualitative output measures and performance indicators that will be used to measure and assess progress and performance in the Chair(s)’ Action Plan.

Candidate(s)’ CV (or Form 100)

The proposed Chairholder(s) should include a CV that clearly demonstrates their contributions to design engineering, design engineering training and design-oriented research. It is not necessary to use the standard NSERC Form 100 to present the candidate(s)’ CV(s); however, the candidate(s)’ demonstrated expertise/accomplishment in teaching and design should be well described as well any additional impacts or design experience. All relevant information, including publications and details of paper (conference, journal, refereed, etc.), must be listed. Any relevant grant information, including the funding amount, must be included.


  • Use this section to provide a list of literature references.
  • Do not refer readers to websites for additional information.
  • Do not introduce hyperlinks in your list of references.

Letters of reference

Three letters of reference, for each proposed candidate, must be sent directly to NSERC. These letters must be provided by experts who are external to the host university and who can attest to the stature and scientific and design experience and reputation of the candidate(s). For each Chair candidate, give the name, the organization and country of each of the three persons who will be providing letters of reference. Authors of these letters should be sufficiently at arm’s length from the candidate(s) to provide an objective assessment.

Environmental information form (appendix A)

An Environmental Information Form (Appendix A) must be completed and uploaded to the Environmental Impact page if required.

Appendix C – external reviewer suggestions

Suggest the names of five people competent to assess the technical aspects of the proposal. This list should include experts from the academic community and the government sector, and must include at least one expert from the industrial sector. As appropriate, also include people competent to assess the aspects outside the natural sciences and engineering. These suggestions should also take into consideration equity, diversity and inclusion; for example, the list should include some women.

Give the name, complete mailing address, telephone and facsimile numbers, email address and the area(s) of expertise of potential external reviewers.

External reviewers should be able to review the proposal in the language in which it is written.

You may also request, in a cover letter, that some individuals or companies not be involved in the review of your application. Your request will be taken into account by NSERC.

Suggested reviewers should not be in a conflict of interest. Refer to the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations for more information. In addition, reviewers must sign the This link will take you to another Web site Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement for Review Committee Members, External Reviewers, and Observers before they access the application material.

Cover letter

The cover letter is optional and should only be used if you wish to provide NSERC with additional information that will not be shared with external reviewers, such as a request that an individual or group of individuals not be involved in the review of your proposal. NSERC will take such a request into consideration. The cover letter must contain your name, the NSERC grant to which you are applying and the title of your application.

Note: This letter may be accessible to these individuals under the Privacy Act.


Before you, as an applicant or candidate, submit your application to NSERC or link your Personal Data Form (or CV) to an application, you must read and agree to the following terms and conditions.

The signatures of the institutional authorities certify that:

  • the institution will abide by the roles and responsibilities as set out in the This link will take you to another Web site Agreement on the Administration of Agency Grants and Awards by Research Institutions with the three federal granting agencies, including the This link will take you to another Web site Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research;
  • the applicant and candidate(s) have met, or will meet, the eligibility requirements;
  • prior to submission of this application, the institution has obtained written approval from any other institutions involved in the application process;
  • if the applicant/candidate discloses any potential intellectual property (IP) arising from the research, he or she and the institution will endeavour to obtain the greatest possible economic benefit to Canada from the resulting commercial activity. Note: This requirement for disclosure is not intended to supersede any IP ownership policy that the institution already has in place.

The signatures of authorized officers of other supporting organizations certify that the organization:

  • agrees with the content of the application and will provide the committed resources;
  • agrees to the release of the public summary of the award and to the publication of the organization's name as a supporter of the initiative.

If you are both the applicant and a principal of a collaborating organization, another senior official must sign on behalf of the organization.

List for a complete application

Use the following list to make sure your application is complete.

  • Application for a Grant (Form 101 form-fillable)
    • Application profile
    • List of Chair candidates
    • Collaborators – if required
    • Area(s) of research/expertise
    • Certification/Requirements
    • Supporting organizations
    • Summary of proposal
    • Proposed expenditures
    • Budget justification (attachment)
    • Contributions from supporting organizations
    • Contributions from supporting organizations (attachment) if additional pages required
    • Relationship to other research support (attachment)
    • Intellectual property
    • Intellectual property (attachment)
    • Proposal (two sections: university design strategy and proposal for establishing the Chair, to be prepared by the university; and a detailed Action Plan, to be prepared by the Chair candidate(s))
    • List of milestones and deliverables
    • Literature references
    • Appendix A (Environmental Information Form) – if required
    • Appendix C (External Reviewer Suggestions) – specialists from academic and design communities as well as from industry
    • Other documents – if required
    • Cover letter – optional
  • Personal Data Form (Form 100) or CV– for each Chair candidate
    • Personal information (appointment, academic background, HQP)
    • Design Engineering Experience
    • Design Engineering Contributions
    • Research support
    • List of HQP
    • Appendix A (Personal Data) – one original only – do not photocopy
    • Appendix B (Eligibility Questionnaire) – one original only – do not photocopy (if required)
    • Appendix C (Description of Applicant’s Activities) – if required
  • Form 183A (Information Required from Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships Programs) and attachments:
    • General information on the organization
    • Research and development activities
    • Applicant information
    • Organization's contributions
    • Signature
    • Supporting organization’s letter of support
    • Profile of company
  • A letter from the university administration confirming its support of the Chair, including any cash contribution or additional letters of support from collaborating faculty and/or organizations (for initiatives that go beyond the department, additional letters of support from other departments should be provided)
  • List of providers of letters of reference
  • Three letters of reference for each Chair candidate – to be sent directly to NSERC
  • Terms and Conditions of Applying Form

Number of copies

You must print out and mail the original, signed paper version of the application to NSERC by the deadline. Please also send an electronic copy (e.g., password-protected via email or on a USB key). Applications cannot be submitted online, and they must follow the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Where to send the application

Completed applications should be sent to the following address:

Linda Martin
Chairs in Design Engineering
Research Partnerships
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H5