I am working on a major proposal for NSF. If I get this proposal, it will basically change my life. Normally, I work on modeling and that is about it. I have a couple of students and a post doc who do nothing but modeling and data analysis work. It is a good life. But, I really like doing hands-on type of stuff. For example, I did a huge amount of the work on our new house. Modeling is fun to me because it involves writing code and building stuff (not real stuff, but fake, codey stuff).
This new proposal will be to build a bunch of actual, real, stuff. And then deploy that stuff all over the United States and Canada. It is a big proposal. And somewhat important, since it could be life-changing, as alluded to above. Why would it be life-changing? Because it is building so many of these things that it will basically force me to do this 100% of my time for the next 3 years. Then, when the stations are all built and deployed, I will have to do science with the data and manage the operations and the data flow and all sorts of other aspects of them, implying that I will have significantly less time to actually do the modeling. Since I have a lot of grants to do the modeling, I will have get more students to do the modeling and such.
Life could be very different.
One thing that I am finding, while coming up with a management plan, is that I will be doing a lot of driving over the next three years. The furthest station is about 300 miles north of Edmonton, Canada (Fort Smith - 2,755 miles away from Ann Arbor!) The closest station is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have to figure out how to deploy 18 stations all over North America in 3 years, with each taking about a week. This is going to be an adventure!
The first hurtle of this proposal is that I have to get it through the university. We are only allowed to submit three proposals from each university, so they have to judge which ones are the most likely to be funded, and which will benefit the university the most, etc. It is going to be harder to get through the universities filter than through the NSF filter, since there will probably be 20-30 proposals submitted to the university, while they have to pick three (a success rate of about 10%-17%), while NSF is expected to fund about 40% of those submitted. (Yeah stimulus money!)
Ok, back to work on the proposal.
6 months ago