2016-2017 FIA Innovation Spark Grant Competition
Using Virtual and Augmented Reality to Address Real-World Challenges
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS IT?
The Innovation Spark Grant program is designed to encourage small teams of students to engage in research and problem-solving projects using the emerging possibilities for immersive experience and storytelling presented by of 360-degree video, virtual reality and augmented reality – “VR” and “AR.” These projects lead the way to innovative solutions for real-world challenges. Students work in interdisciplinary teams of three or four together with faculty mentors. Each project features connections for collaboration and adoption outside the university.
WHAT KINDS OF TOPICS ARE APPROPRIATE?
Proposals should identify specific goals for research, problem-solving and real-world application and explain how these relate to one or more of the following “10 Priorities for the Future of Information” – described on the FIA website at https://fia.umd.edu/priorities/ – or to another concept that could be a priority for the future of information.
10 Priorities Identified by the FIA Community for the Future of Information
How can private information be secure in a networked world?
How can we identify accurate information and reliable sources?
Can the digital divide be reduced to foster opportunity for all?
How can knowledge about evolving resources be improved?
How can different cultures better understand each other?
How can barriers to information about government be reduced?
What business models will support content creation and access?
Funded with support from
How can research across disciplines help tackle the big issues?
How can expert information be translated for broad use?
How can people use available tools together to aid humankind?
DO TEAMS NEED PRIOR ACCESS TO VR/AR EQUIPMENT or SPECIFIC TECHNICAL SKILLS?
They do not. Each team will have a budget that will help with acquiring tools, such as 360-degree video cameras or devices for VR/AR viewing. In some cases, a team may wish to produce a VR/AR product, and these teams might include one or more members with relevant technical skills. Or a team may propose a model or generate a prototype of an innovative solution. Projects are encouraged across disciplines, from computer science, journalism and criminology to performing arts, history, or education – just to cite a few examples.
WHAT SHOULD BE IN A PROPOSAL?
Each proposal should include the following:
1) Cover Page with the following elements:
- Title of Project
- Names of all Team Members and Faculty Mentor (specify department, college and student status and faculty position)
- Identity of Potential Outside Partner (with contact information)
- 150-word Abstract – summarizes the proposed project
- Signatures – of each team member and mentor
2) Proposed Project (three to five single-spaced pages, not counting citations) including:
- Project Motivation: The rationale for project, including its relevance to one or more FIA priorities – or another proposed priority – and to the FIA’s mission of facilitating a future in which information in all its forms can be effective resource for everyone. (See FIA Priorities listed above.)
- Project Description: Include approach, timelines, expected outcomes, and how such outcomes might be evaluated.
- Innovation: Each proposal should make clear the ways in which the project and its intended outcomes would be innovative.
- Outside Partner Role: Make clear how and why the project will be of interest and relevance to a collaborating FIA partner or another outside collaborator (to be approved by FIA). Connecting with the potential partner prior to submitting the proposal is not required, but is strongly suggested and should be described in your proposal. (Connect with FIA for opportunities to meet the partners.)
3) Additional Information including:
- Citations, including full titles.
- Project Budget, including details of expected expenditures
- Resumes of Team Members (up to two pages per person)
- CV of Faculty Mentor (up to three pages, with link to full CV)
- Brief narrative bio (no more than one page per person) of team members and faculty mentor that will help the judges understand the context for the project in connection with interests and background of team members.
Applications are due via email as a single PDF file per team sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 14, at 5 pm.
WHAT ARE THE KEY DATES?
|Kickoff Informational Meeting
Room 3202, Knight Hall
Room 3200, Knight Hall
Email email@example.com to make an appointment and get help refining your ideas!
|Proposals Due (by 5pm)
See the Spark Grants FAQ for what to include and how to submit.
|Semi-Finalist Presentations and Winners Announced
Room 1208 (Eaton Theater), Knight Hall
|Winning Teams Work on Projects
|Final Presentations by Winning Teams
Room 1208 (Eaton Theater), Knight Hall
HOW WILL THE APPLICATIONS BE JUDGED?
Written proposals will be evaluated by the FIA Directors, FIA staff, and members of the FIA Brainstorming Board.
There will be five criteria for judges to review team projects:
1. Team Composition and Capability
Each team must be interdisciplinary in nature with student representatives from two or more colleges. Team members and mentors should demonstrate a background that indicates their ability to succeed with their intended project.
2. Overall Project Quality and Innovation
Each proposal should contain enough detail to make clear that it has been carefully designed and that it has innovative elements in its topic, approach and/or expected outcome.
3. Relevance to FIA Priorities
Each proposal will be judged on its relevance to one or more FIA “Priorities for the Future of Information” – or other proposed priorities – and its likelihood of advancing the FIA’s overall mission of facilitating a future in which information in all its forms can be effective resource for everyone.
4. Connection and Relevance to Outside Collaborating Partner
Each proposal should make clear its relevance to one or more FIA Founding Partners or another outside collaborator and the likelihood that the partners or collaborators would be able to adopt, use or continue to develop the work of the team once the project is completed.
5. Potential Real-World Impact of the Project
Each proposal should suggest how the project could eventually lead to innovation, adoption and impact in the real world.
HOW WILL EXPENSES BE REIMBURSED?
Each spark grant proposal must include a budget identifying expenses for which reimbursement will be sought. Request for reimbursements will be made by faculty mentors to the Division of Research business office. Any proposed expenditures beyond the written proposal must be approved in advance by the FIA Directors.
WHAT EXPENSES ARE ALLOWED?
In general, necessary expenses related to the project might include the following: project supplies; purchase or rental of equipment to carry out project; travel relevant to the project.
WHAT EXPENSES ARE NOT ALLOWED?
Salaries, wages or contracts for the performance of services (unless these are essential to the project and are explicitly approved in advance by FIA); general telephone services and postage; alterations or renovations of laboratory space; purchase of laboratory or office furniture; purchase or binding of periodicals and books; dues and memberships in scientific societies.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Teams of three or four students with a faculty mentor may apply. Students must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at the University of Maryland-College Park. The team must include students from more than one UMD college. Teams with a majority of grad students are encouraged but not required to include undergraduates. Each team member must be an active participant in the spark grant project. Each mentor must be a full-time faculty member at UMD-College Park.
HOW MANY SPARK GRANTS WILL BE AWARDED, AND FOR HOW MUCH?
Innovation Spark Grants will be awarded to up to four teams. Each team will be awarded up to $10,000, as follows: a $1,500 stipend for each student on the team (for up to four students); $2,500 for the faculty mentor on each team (or divided among two mentors); and up to $1,500 in approved expense reimbursements for each team.
CAN A PROJECT HAVE TWO FACULTY MENTORS?
A Spark Grant project is permitted to have two faculty mentors. Both mentors would split the $2,500 faculty stipend evenly.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF STUDENTS WHO ARE GRANT RECIPIENTS?
Students should expect to spend an average of at least six hours a week on this project with their team. This will include meetings with team members, with the faculty mentor, and the outside collaborating partner. Individual research, product development, building of artifacts, and writing are also activities that may be undertaken.
All teams who are grant recipients are required to attend at least two coaching meetings with FIA advisers and experts during their work on the projects from December 2016 to May 2017. These meetings will take place during Spark Grant office hours, which will be announced separately.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF FACULTY MENTORS?
Faculty will provide guidance, point to resources, and ensure that each team member is playing an active role in the project. Requests for expense reimbursements will also be the responsibility of the faculty mentor.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF OUTSIDE PARTNERS?
Each team’s outside collaborator or collaborators – from one or more of the 10 FIA Founding Partners or another outside collaborator approved by FIA – will take part in periodic meetings and communication with the team. Partners or other collaborators will advise teams on potential research and development paths and applications for innovations that can have lasting impact and use.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER CONDITIONS?
Yes, as follows:
- Spark grants are not transferable to individuals not named in the original proposals without prior approval in writing by the FIA Directors.
- Equipment purchased with spark grant funds shall become the property of FIA at the conclusion of the project.
- Each team should indicate in its proposal the name of one team member or the faculty mentor who will be at UMD during the subsequent academic year and will provide periodic updates throughout 2017 and 2018, on any activities related to the funded project that take place after the Spring 2017 presentations.
WHOM CAN I CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION?
Please contact Anne Rose, FIA managing director and coordinator of the Innovation Spark Grant program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Future of Information Alliance is co-directed by Associate Professor Ira Chinoy (email@example.com) of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and Professor Allison Druin(firstname.lastname@example.org) of Maryland’s iSchool, who is currently in the second year of a two-year leave to serve as Special Advisor for National Digital Strategy at the National Park Service. The FIA operates under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Research and has received support during the past five years from that office, the Office of the Provost, the deans of every academic college on the College Park campus, the UMD libraries, and the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. The FIA has a broad-based campus advisory board with representation of every UMD college and the libraries – at https://fia.umd.edu/brainstorming-board/ – and has received substantial in-kind support from Google and from the FIA’s 10 founding partners, at https://fia.umd.edu/partners/.