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December 12, 2018

NSF Looks for Innovative Technology to Prepare for the Workforce of the Future via the Career Compass Challenge

By Dorothy Aronson, CIO of the National Science Foundation


Technology is changing the way we do our work, and the work itself. To keep up, the National Science Foundation (NSF) plans to invest in its most critical resource – the workforce. And it’s not just NSF. The need for an adaptable and ready workforce extends to other Federal agencies and beyond. No industry will be immune to the way advances in technology change the nature of work. NSF believes that, along with other agencies and organizations, the best way to maintain a workforce ready to carry out its mission is to encourage a culture of continuous learning, and to empower each person to refresh and modernize their skills toward future work. We want to spark the thinking of the best and brightest to co-create a solution that can enable individual skill-matching and tailored training for the Workforce for the 21st Century.

To do this, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched a cash prize competition, totaling $100,000, called the NSF Career Compass Challenge. The challenge is to create a solution that, given information about a person, will predict jobs that suit an individual’s strengths and aspirations and help them to develop the skills needed to qualify for current and future careers. NSF is encouraging the general public, research communities, private sector and other interested stakeholders to participate. The winning solution will be tested on a small scale, for NSF, but is intended to be useful to a broad range of employees in both the public and private sectors.

This is a two-part competition, and participants have the option to participate in Part 1, Part 2 or both. For the first part of the Career Compass Challenge participants will present a concept, via a white paper. Participants have until December 31 to submit their white papers for evaluation by a panel of judges. Up to five winning white papers will be selected and each winning team will receive a cash prize of $5K.

The second part of the Career Compass Challenge will begin in February 2019. Participants will be tasked with developing a working prototype based on the winning concepts. One prototype will be selected, and the winning team will receive a cash prize of $75K.

For questions about the challenge, please contact

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