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Early Career Awards
As of July 21, 2018

Program Overview

Getting fresh research ideas and perspective is important to ELECTRI. This successful Foundation program creates early career interaction between faculty in the engineering and construction management disciplines and the electrical construction industry. The Foundation provides support early in the careers of faculty at U.S. colleges and universities. In return, the benefit to ELECTRI is a series of beneficial projects that increases the visibility of the electrical construction industry in U.S. colleges and universities and promotes long-term relationships between university faculty, ELECTRI International and NECA.

Early Career Award applications must focus on an issue of significance to the electrical construction industry such as:

  • pilot studies on key issues facing the electrical construction industry

  • development of electrical construction course materials

  • innovative activities designed to advance the electrical construction industry

Early Career Awards go directly to a university department, which matches the award in cash or in-kind. The researcher must be an assistant professor who has not conducted major research for ELECTRI. To enhance the academic value of the grant, ELECTRI anticipates that one outcome of the commissioned work will be a white paper publishable in a peer reviewed forum and of interest to the electrical construction industry.

Request for Proposal

Download the 2018 Early Career Award Request for Proposal.


Each year, ELECTRI International announces how much money will be allocated for the Early Career Awards. In 2017, ELECTRI funded two (2) Early Career Awards in the amount of $9,000 each.


Applicants should seek matching funds through their respective colleges and universities or other funding sources. Funds will be distributed to selected projects in the form of an unrestricted gift to the University in support of the faculty member and may be used for student support, faculty salary and travel. To enhance the academic value of the grant, it is anticipated that one outcome of the work supported by the grant will be a paper publishable in a peer reviewed forum and of interest to the electrical construction industry.

For details regarding the actual proposal submission, please download the above Request for Proposal document.  

2018 Schedule

March 15 - Request for Proposals

April 30 - Submission Deadline for Early Career Award Proposals (5:00 pm EST)

May - Selection of up to Four Finalists

June 1 - Notification of the Finalists

July 6 - Submission Deadline for the Finalists' Presentations

July 16-17 - ELECTRI Council Meeting, Atlanta, GA

Example of Projects

While we invite proposals on many topics, Early Career Awards must be used to focus on an issue of significance to the electrical construction industry. The funds may be used to supplement a new or on-going project where a component or module is directly applicable to the electrical construction industry such as:

  • Pilot studies on key issues facing the electrical construction industry
  • Development of electrical construction course materials
  • Other innovative activities that will help advance the electrical construction industry


Engineering and construction management faculty at U.S. colleges and universities with the rank of assistant professor are eligible to submit proposals. Only one proposal per investigator can be submitted. Recipients of the award will become ineligible for future Early Career Awards; however these individuals will be strongly encouraged to submit proposals to other ELECTRI research programs. An Early Career Awards pilot study might be used as the basis for a subsequent larger scale ELECTRI research project. Recipients of other ELECTRI International funding programs, e.g. the January awards for full research projects, are not eligible to submit proposals for the Early Career Award. 


Proposals are reviewed by the ELECTRI International Program Review Committee and ranked based on intellectual merit, innovation, student engagement and the level of interaction the proposed activity will promote between the grantee and the electrical construction industry.

The selection of top finalists is usually announced towards the end of May. Up to four finalists will be invited to the summer ELECTRI Council program meeting in July to present their proposals to the entire ELECTRI Council. At this meeting, Council members will select the top two finalists who will be awarded funding. 

The 2017 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Augmented Reality for Electrical Construction Tasks, Steven Ayer, Arizona State University
  • Marketing Electrical Apprenticeship Opportunties with Content Targeted Toward Recruiting Women, Heidi Wagner, University of Wisconsin

The 2016 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Best Practices for Early Adoption of Productivity Improvement Programs, Brian Lines, University of Kansas
  • Flexible Overhead: Agile Strategies That Increase Electrical Contractor Profitability, Jake Smithwick, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

The 2015 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Exploring Where the Electrical Construction Workforce Comes From and Their Career Awareness, Ben Bigelow, Texas A&M University
  • Electrical Contractors' Perception and Practices with Risk Management, Anthony Perrenoud, University of Oklahoma

 The 2014 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Using BIM to Conduct Feasibility Analysis of Pre-fab & Modularization, Rogelio Palomera-Arias, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Best Practices for Journeyman Transition to CW/CE Supervisor, Donna Hollar, East Carolina University

The 2013 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Exploring the Opportunities for Applying Lean Principles to Electrical Prefabrication, Hyun Woo “Chris” Lee, Oregon State University
  • Active Learning for Electrical System Constructability Evaluation, Robert Leicht, Penn State University
  • Industrialization of Electrical Contracting: Supply Chain and Logistics Management, Hisham Said, Santa Clara University
  • Information Technology Assessment for Line Electrical Contractors, Vanessa Valentin, University of New Mexico.

The 2012 Early Career Award recipients:

  • Generating Success: An Exploration of the Issues Facing the Electrical Construction Industry through the Lens of Family Business, Dr. Greg McCann and Dr. Michelle DeMoss, Family Enterprise Center, School of Business Administration, Stetson University
  • Integrating Electrical Contracting into a Construction Management Program, Mark Tatum, PE, School of Building Science, Auburn University

A third Early Career Award proposal -  A Systematic Approach for the Assessment of Green Opportunities for Electrical Contractors from Baabak Ashuri, School of Building Construction, Georgia Tech, received an additional award through an ELECTRI International partnership created by two ELECTRI Council members - the Atlanta Chapter NECA and Lutron Electronics Company, Inc.