Requesting Proposal Assistance

The goal of the Office of Engineering Research Administration (OERA) is to ensure that proposals are compliant and submitted on time. We want your proposal to be successful. While there were advantages to our previous system of assigning coordinators to specific departments, more stringent and time-consuming compliance issues on both the pre- and post-award sides of research administration have made it increasingly difficult to manage workloads associated with departmental assignments.

Our updated procedure for requesting assistance with proposals is described below.

How to Request Proposal Assistance

Link to the Proposal Request System.

Connecting to the online Proposal Request System requires VPN connection to the College of Engineering network from Penn State or any other wireless networks. If you do not have VPN software installed, please go to for further instructions. If you are using a computer that’s wired into the COE network, VPN is not required.

You will need your Penn State Access ID and password, along with 2FA (two-factor) authentication.

If you have further questions about preparing your proposal or have any problems with the new system, please contact us at

Important Announcement (please read)

Beginning March 15, 2018, OERA will no longer accept the PDF Proposal Information Form (PIF) as an official request for proposal assistance. You must use the web system before we can set up a proposal in our internal system.

OERA Deadlines

Enter Sponsor Deadline (MM/DD/YYYY):  

Your Processing Timeline Due to Pre-Award
1. Initial Notification/Initial Budget  Past Due
2. Final Budget/Budget Justification  Past Due
3. Final Documents � Ready for Submission to Sponsor  Past Due

Please notify our office as soon as possible regarding your plans to submit a proposal.

You should allow 10 business days to process a proposal. Add an additional five (5) business days if your proposal contains subcontracts, cost-share or ARL (Applied Research Laboratory). This will provide adequate time to obtain all required approvals and documents from the respective parties included in the proposal.

We need to have your budget in final form five (5) business days (Monday-Friday, excluding weekends and holidays) prior to the deadline.

All other remaining files need to be received in final form three (3) business days prior to the deadline.

These deadlines also pertain to renewals, white papers, concept papers, and pre-proposals that require University signature.

During times of heavy proposals when we may have 35-40 proposals due on the same day, each coordinator may find it necessary to adjust these deadlines in order to handle their assignments and meet deadlines. This will be clearly communicated to you as you begin to work with your coordinator.

The above timeline is for your reference. During major and heavy deadline periods, additional processing time will be required. These internal deadlines will be clearly communicated to you by the assigned coordinator.

In the cases where proposals are due outside normal business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), 5:00 p.m. EST of the day of the deadline should be considered the official submission deadline. If a PI is unable to meet the processing timeline, every effort will be made by Pre-Award to submit a PI’s proposal to the sponsor by the stated deadline. However, Pre-Award may not be able to perform all services listed under our Service-Level Agreement in the shortened timeframe. Proposals processed within the expected timeline will take precedence over those that are outside the expected timeline and will be handled on a first-come first-served basis.

OERA Coordinator Assignment

Your proposal will be assigned to a coordinator, based on sponsor, complexity, deadline, and staff workloads. You will be notified of which coordinator will assist with your proposal, and you will work with that coordinator one-on-one. When a coordinator is assigned to your proposal, he or she will read through the solicitation, build a draft budget, and begin to communicate with you concerning required files and specific deadlines for receiving your files. Depending upon the requirements of your proposal, your Proposal Coordinator may request additional information and forms, such as cost share, limited indirect costs, subcontracts, GRAs, travel, etc.

OERA Business Hours

OERA is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office closes at 5:00 p.m., regardless of any proposal deadlines that are listed in the solicitation. Therefore, proposals must be received by OERA in time to submit by 5:00 p.m. on the day of the deadline, even when the sponsor deadline is in a different time zone or is later than 5:00 p.m.

Also, please remember that there are holidays when the University is officially closed and OERA is not available to work on or submit a proposal.