Call for Proposals:
2021 Unidata Community Equipment Awards

Under sponsorship from the National Science Foundation, the Unidata Program Center (UPC) announces the 2021 Unidata Community Equipment Awards solicitation, described below, along with the proposal submission requirements. A total of $100,000, including UCAR overhead, is available for awards this year. Proposals for amounts up to $20,000 will be considered. The deadline date for submitting proposals is March 26, 2021. Notifications of award status are expected to be made by May, 2021.

Description of Program

The primary purpose of the Unidata Community Equipment Awards is to encourage new members from diverse disciplinary backgrounds in the geosciences to join the Unidata community, and for existing members to continue their active participation so as to enhance the community process. This is an open call to fund purchases of equipment that aids academic institutions in using Unidata technologies to further teaching and research in the geosciences. Applicants are strongly encouraged to get assistance with hardware requirements for their activity before submitting a proposal by contacting the UPC at

It is the intent of this award program to assist institutions in a variety of situations, including (but not limited to):

In keeping with Unidata's most recent proposal to the National Science Foundation for continued program funding, additional emphasis will be placed on providing support for institutions serving populations that are underrepresented in the broad geoscience community. Unidata is dedicated to broadening participation by minority serving institutions, and we particularly encourage small institutions, academic departments that have not previously submitted proposals to this program, and programs outside Unidata's traditional atmospheric sciences community to apply.

Proposals from academic institutions outside the United States will be considered. However, preference will be given to academic institutions within the U.S.

We're here to help

Unidata Program Center staff are available to assist proposers throughout the process, from advising on proposal preparation and hardware specification to assisting with installation and configuration of Unidata software technologies. (Note that while Unidata staff will continue to provide advice and technical support for running projects, ongoing maintenance and operation of technology acquired through the Equipment Awards program is the responsibility of the grantee institution.)

Special Consideration for 2021 Awards

The Community Equipment Awards program is intended to assist institutions with whatever equipment needs they may be facing, and Unidata encourages proposals for any identified need. In addition, Unidata community members have identified a number of areas that are of special interest this year; proposals that touch on one or more of the following topics are considered especially appropriate.

  • Projects that advance remote teaching of and classroom-style remote interaction with geoscience students.
  • Projects aim to enhance equitable access to valuable computing resources.
  • Projects that expose locally-created datasets and derived products to the wider Unidata community.

Unidata's technical staff stands ready to assist with installation and configuration of both servers. Proposals submitted in these areas of special consideration must show evidence of meeting Criteria #2 and #3 below. And as always, these special emphases do not preclude other proposals from members of the Unidata community for procuring new computers or upgrading existing classroom and laboratory equipment to integrate Unidata tools and data services in geoscience education and research.

Proposal Review Criteria

Proposals from institutions that have not received funding through this program in the past two award cycles will be considered.

Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Intellectual or technical merit of the proposed work. Using Unidata technologies, the proposed effort makes an important contribution to advancing knowledge and understanding within the geosciences.
  2. Contribution to Unidata community capabilities. Equipment will be used to develop concepts and software that contribute to the enhancement of the community capability.
  3. Broadening the Unidata community scope and capabilities. The effort makes available tools and/or datasets which would be meaningful to the current Unidata community as well as disciplines outside of atmospheric sciences.
  4. Contribution to the advancement of technology. The proposal shows emphasis toward a particular technological advancement that it is working to deploy and share with the broader community.
  5. Contribution to education. The activity contributes to local and/or community education efforts in the geosciences by providing new approaches to classroom and individual instruction.
  6. Contribution to research. The equipment request encompasses an activity that shows potential for supporting and enhancing innovative research.

While all of the above criteria are important to the Unidata Program in general, a successful equipment funding proposal might not be address all six. For example, a proposal for hardware aimed at reaching an educational goal may make a minimal contribution to research activities, but still be selected for funding.

Note also that professional presentation of the narrative detailing how the proposal addresses the above criteria will be an important factor in the review panel's evaluation.

Unidata will accept proposals that include funds for hardware, software (including cloud storage/computing resources), and associated indirect costs. This program does not provide funds for staff time, travel, or other costs not outlined here. In addition, institutions that have previously received an award through this program should wait a minimum of two years after their grant year ends before applying again.

Proposals must demonstrate that the equipment request is technically sound with respect to hardware and software selection and integration with existing local systems, and proposals must include a quote(s) from the prospective hardware and software vendors. Proposers are strongly encouraged to consult with Unidata regarding hardware selection before submitting a proposal.

In addition, each proposal must include a section describing local information technology (IT) resources available to support the project. Faculty and staff involved in managing the hardware and Unidata systems must be committed to obtaining, managing, and maintaining the proposed equipment and Unidata-supported tools as described in the proposal. While Unidata will be happy to provide consultation and remote assistance with configuration of Unidata technologies, ongoing operation and maintenance of the equipment is the responsibility of the grantee. A short statement/letter/email from the from the proposer’s primary IT support staff acknowledging this responsibility and indicating readiness to provide resources must be included in the proposal.

Proposal Format

Including all of the sections below, Community Equipment Award proposals are typically 5-10 pages. Proposals must contain all components listed below and be assembled in the order listed:

A. Cover Page: Signed by the appropriate university official, for example, the Dean or the contracts officer. (example)

B. Project Summary: A brief summary of the project and how the proposer intends to use equipment funded through this award program.

C. Project Description:

D. Budget:

E. Project Milestones:

Provide information about how soon equipment will be purchased after receipt of the award, and when it will be deployed as part of the broader project objective.

Submission, Notification and Accountability

Please submit an electronic copy in either PDF or Microsoft Word format along with the signed cover sheet via email to Terry Mitchell-Sur at with "Equipment Awards 2021" and your institution name referenced in the subject line.

Proposals must be received at the UPC no later than 5:00pm MT, March 26, 2021. To ensure fairness, proposals arriving after the deadline will be returned without review. Also, please ensure that all materials are included in your submission. Please note that we do business in English only. All proposals and contractual activities must take place in English.

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel consisting of community members and Unidata staff. Once decisions are made, the Unidata Director will notify the outcome of the review to all applicants. Reviewers' comments will be distributed to successful and unsuccessful proposals alike. Funds will be distributed to successful applicants by a sub-contract award process to their institution, and recipients will be responsible for purchasing and installing the equipment.

Within a year of receiving equipment funds, recipients will be required to submit a brief report in the form of a short article to the UPC. The intent of the article is to encourage others to participate in the Unidata community and the Equipment Awards program by showing the benefits of participation, as well as ensuring compliance with the original intent of the awards. Recipients should address how the funding was used to strengthen their program and/or the Unidata community. The article should also describe how the equipment has been used, the impact on education and research, lessons learned, etc. Articles will be used for publication either on the News@Unidata blog or the Unidata web site (at our discretion). Failure to submit the requested article will result in ineligibility for future funding.

If, in addition to the required report, you write a paper and would like to acknowledge Unidata in the publication, please cite our Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). You can find DOIs suitable for official citations on our page: How to Acknowledge Unidata. On the page there are DOIs for various software packages created and maintained by Unidata, as well as a reference for the Equipment Awards program itself.


Please see our FAQ to find answers to specific questions you might have about the Unidata Community Equipment Awards. If you still have questions or would like additional guidance on submitting a proposal, send us an email at:

The following are examples of some recent successful proposals:

The complete list of previously successful proposals, organized by year, can be found on the Unidata Equipment Awards web page.