Science & Technology

USU Tops Nation for Space Research Funding

Utah State University is the number one university in the United States when it comes to funding for space research, taking the lead over other prestigious research institutions that include Johns Hopkins University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With more than $54.8 million in research and development expenditures in 2004, USU ranks first among all universities in the nation in money spent on aerospace research and development, according to the most recent National Science Foundation statistics. The majority of the funding comes from grants, contracts and appropriations.

The top 10 universities in aeronautical research are, in order of their ranking, USU, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Wichita State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Air Force Academy, University of Colorado, University of Florida, Texas A&M and University of Maryland.

USU ranks 17th in total engineering research and development expenditures, according to NSF. Overall, USU's research funding grew by nearly 50 percent from 2000-2004, to more than $150 million. USU's funding puts it in the top 10 of all non-medical schools in the West. Other major research centers at USU include the Center for Persons with Disabilities, the Utah Agriculture Experiment Station, the USU Ecology Center and the Utah Water Research Laboratory.

USU is home to Space Dynamics Laboratory, a unit of the USU Research Foundation. The USU Research Foundation is a non-profit research corporation owned by the university. SDL's expertise in the development of sensors and calibration, small satellites and real-time intelligence, has made it an internationally known organization in the space arena.

Founded in 1982, SDL engineers and scientists have worked closely with USU students to design and develop many research experiments flown on the space shuttle. SDL works in close collaboration with USU's College of Engineering to identify and secure funding for research projects and also provides thousands of USU students with hands-on experience in engineering and many other disciplines.

"SDL is glad to be part of the important research effort provided by USU to government agencies," said Michael D. Pavich, retired major general and director of USU's Space Dynamics Lab. "We strive to provide the best value to all those who fund our efforts and will continue to provide innovative solutions and timely support whenever we are called upon. SDL is proud to be working closely with USU in establishing the university's reputation of excellence in space science and engineering."

The USU colleges of Engineering and Science are both heavily involved in space research, with extensive expertise in the subject.

The College of Engineering houses the Rocky Mountain NASA Space Grant Consortium and the Center for Space Engineering, a multi-disciplinary group of engineering faculty who are principal investigators of programs with strong ties to the Space Dynamics Laboratory. All departments in the College of Engineering, including mechanical and aerospace engineering, electrical and computer engineering, biological and irrigation engineering, civil and environmental engineering and engineering and technology education are involved in space research.

The College of Science is home to the Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences that involves many areas of physics, in addition to such disciplines as engineering, chemistry and meteorology. The center works closely with instrument development and data analysis related to rocket, satellite and space shuttle projects and projects in experimental design and data analysis related to incoherent-scatter and coherent radars, ground-based magnetometer and ground-based optical instruments, including a LIDAR system.

"With the synergy of the Space Dynamics Laboratory and top-notch science and engineering programs, USU has long been a leader in aerospace research," said Brent Miller, vice president for research at USU. "Other USU research programs are growing to national prominence as well. USU's College of Education and Human Services, for example, is ranked third in the nation in external research funding. USU is also rapidly accelerating the transfer of university technology to the public by spinning out more than 12 companies within the past three years."

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