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Sciences IT Tech Tryout Grant


Sciences IT is offering a small grant program providing up to $1,000 in ETF funding to faculty who would like to experiment with new information technologies and/or new uses of technology to enhance student learning during the current academic year. 


This IT grant program is intended to help instructors experiment with or acquire needed software, information technology equipment or IT services to support student learning in all modes of instructional delivery in Spring and/or Summer 2022.

Please note that this program’s scope does not include non-IT equipment/instruments or non-IT supplies.

Goals of program

This program is designed to:

  • Support innovation and student success by providing an opportunity to try new methods or to extend currently successful methods to support student learning using technology
  • Enable Sciences IT to identify successful and unsuccessful tools from the perspective of those using them
  • Allow Sciences IT to investigate future funding possibilities for supporting the continued use of effective tools
  • Assess the effectiveness of using a grant program as a tool to support teaching and student learning in the future

Eligibility Requirements

College of Sciences faculty members or graduate TAs who are teaching a course in Spring 2022 or Summer 2022 are eligible.


Faculty must complete the Tech Tryout Grant Application and provide the requested information. This will include a summary of no more than 1250 characters (about 100 words) about how the grant funds will be used to benefit student learning and what the expected outcomes are. This information will be used to ensure the proposal is eligible for ETF funds, and to help the applicants assess whether the technology and its use were successful at achieving the expected  outcomes. 

  • Requests can range from $50 up to $1,000.

This is not a merit-based competitive award, so an extensive justification is not required.

Application Deadlines

Awards are made on a first come, first served basis.

Award requests will be reviewed weekly. Applications received Monday through Sunday will be reviewed on the following Monday during the application period until funding is exhausted. Award notifications will be sent within 3 business days of review.

Application period
Opens: October 20, 2021 at 9:00 AM ET
Closes: November 28, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET


If you are planning to purchase physical equipment of any kind, you should apply as early as possible. Global supply chains are heavily disrupted and shipping times are far longer than in previous years. Check with your vendor or manufacturer to confirm that you will actually be able to receive items in time to use them.

Award Allocations

Sciences IT has set aside $30,000 for this program.

  • These are ETF funds so must be used in accordance with ETF guidelines. 
  • In all cases, awards are first come, first served. This is not a merit-based competition.
  • Faculty may apply for $50 up to $1,000.
  • We have set aside $2,000 per department to ensure that faculty from all disciplines can be represented.
  • The remaining $18,000 will be awarded without regard to the faculty member’s department.

Additional funding sources

Faculty are welcome to seek additional funding to support their ideas.

It is not required, and will provide neither an advantage nor a disadvantage regarding receiving an award.

If a group of faculty would like to submit a proposal together, they may do so and combine the maximum award amounts (e.g., 3 faculty could jointly request up to $3,000) to jointly purchase something that would otherwise be too expensive provided that all of the applicants will be using the item(s) in courses during the Spring/Summer terms.

For example, 3 faculty members could not combine a request for $3,000 in order to support only one or two of them.    Each faculty member would need to use the item(s) in a course they are teaching and each of them would need to complete all required feedback surveys.

These awards are not intended or permitted to offset the costs of purchases that a department or faculty member would ordinarily make. This program is intended to provide opportunities for faculty who are interested in trying something beyond the ordinary.

One-Time Award

This grant should be considered one time funding and is not a commitment of ongoing support. 

If a purchase has recurring costs, such as a software subscription, the awardee is responsible for either cancelling the subscription or for arranging to cover any costs that are incurred after June 15, 2022. Any unused funds will revert to Sciences IT at that time. 

Overages will be charged to the awardee’s department’s ETF project. Departments may choose not to cover the charges.

If ongoing support is desired, awardees should request funding from their departments according to their unit’s normal funding request procedures.

Participation Requirements

One of the goals of this grant is to assess the usefulness of the technology in achieving the faculty member’s expected outcomes as listed on the application, so the awardee’s feedback is required.

Required Feedback

Faculty will be asked to provide feedback during the term the course(s) are being taught. Feedback will be related to the effectiveness of the tools for accomplishing the faculty member’s stated outcome goals.

Spring Interim Survey Requirement

A short survey will be sent one week prior to Spring Break and must be completed within 14 days. It should take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete.

  • Spring 2022: Survey will be sent 3/7/2022 and will be due 3/21/2022
End of Term Survey Requirement (all awards)

End of term surveys should take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete. Spring  semester surveys are sent one day after the last day of classes. Other terms’ surveys are sent one day after the end of final exams. Surveys must be completed within 14 days. 

  • Spring 2022: Survey will be sent 4/26/2022 and will be due 5/10/2022
  • Summer I  2022:  Survey will be sent 6/25/2022 and will be due 7/9/2022
  • Summer II 2022: Survey will be sent 8/3/2022 and will be due 8/17/2022

If the required feedback is not provided on time, awardees will be ineligible for participation in the next Tech Tryout grant program cycle.

Conference and publication opportunities

We strongly encourage you to share your experiences with the technology funded by this program with colleagues at NC State and other educational institutions. You may be interested in presenting your experience and outcomes at the UNC CAUSE annual conference (the UNC system’s technology conference) or the EDUCAUSE annual conference (the professional association for higher education and IT). There may also be publication opportunities with EDUCAUSE. If you are interested in pursuing these opportunities, you will be able to indicate your interest on the surveys and we will be glad help you explore this further. Sciences IT will also be glad to assist with developing other conference proposals or publications attendees may wish to pursue.

Award processes


Sciences IT will review your application and proposed budget to ensure eligibility for ETF funds.

If all is well, you will receive an award notification letter. Please note that some purchases require approvals beyond Sciences IT as described below.

If your application is not approved, you will receive an email that explains the reason. The most likely reasons are:

  1. The purchases are not ETF eligible because they do not provide direct student educational benefit (for example, a new computer for a faculty office)
  2. The purchases are ETF eligible but are non-IT requests that are not within the scope of this program (for example, scientific instruments or wet lab supplies)
  3. The requested items are already available at no cost (for example, an identical version of software that has already been licensed for your desired use)
  4. Funding for the program has been exhausted

Purchasing Processes

You will receive either a “Tech Tryout Purchase Approval” email within 1 business day of the award letter explaining the purchasing process if no further approvals are required or a “Tech Tryout Purchase Hold” email  if there is any coordination that will be needed prior to purchase, such as obtaining any compliance-related approvals or exceptions.

Sciences IT will check to ensure that planned purchases meet all compliance requirements and help if they don’t. In most cases, Sciences IT will place the order for you.

If you make a purchase before receiving the “Tech Tryout Purchase Approval” email or before receiving all required approvals, your purchase may not be funded and you will have to work with your department to cover your costs. 

Computer and tablet purchases

If equipment is required to be compliant with the Endpoint Protection Standard, Sciences IT will place the order on the awardee’s behalf, set it up and deliver it to the faculty member’s campus work location within 5 business days of receiving the equipment. This applies to Windows, Mac, Linux, and iPad purchases.

Software licenses and cloud services purchases

Sciences IT will ensure that software, apps and cloud services purchases are in compliance with university PRRs and that purchases are not duplicated if the software is already licensed. If a site license is viable, Sciences IT will place the order for that purchase. 

Recurring charges

  • If it is possible to pay for a software subscription or cloud service on an annual basis rather than being billed monthly, this is preferred.
    • Provided the software or services are used during the Spring or Summer terms according to the requirements of this grant, it is generally OK to make a purchase for a 1-year term.
    • The applicant should determine whether this is a cost-effective approach.
    • The total purchase may not exceed the amount of the award.
  • No reimbursements will be made for services charged to a non-university credit card. There are no exceptions to this.
  • You will receive information about the purchasing process when all approvals have been received.


There are a number of compliance requirements for ETF and IT purchases at the university. Sciences IT will help you ensure that all purchases are compliant. We will work with OIT on your behalf to request approvals or exceptions if needed. For your reference, compliance requirements we have to observe include those below.

ETF Compliance

These funds are ETF and must be used in compliance with ETF requirements. Faculty must certify that the funds will be used for technology that is used for instructional purposes to benefit students directly during Spring and/or Summer 2021 semesters. Sciences IT will review to ensure that proposed expenditures are in compliance with university ETF requirements. These awards are for technology only.

Purchasing Compliance

University purchasing requirements continue to apply to all purchases made from university funds, including ETF. Funds will not be disbursed for purchases that do not meet all university purchasing requirements. 

Security, Licensing, and Accessibility Compliance

Software and cloud services must meet the university’s security, software licensing, and accessibility requirements.  Sciences IT will work with you to complete the IT Purchase Compliance process and will coordinate with OIT to ensure approvals can be made as quickly as possible.

Endpoint Protection Standard Compliance

All Windows, Linux and Mac computers and iPads will be set up to comply with the university’s Endpoint Protection Standard rule. Sciences IT will take care of this for you and will also work with you to make exception requests to OIT Security & Compliance if needed.

CPI Compliance

The Combined Purchasing Initiative is a UNC System policy that requires the university to purchase PCs from approved vendors and configurations. Sciences IT will ensure that purchases meet this requirement.