The College of Engineering accomplished a 72 percent increase in funding over last year. It moved from $26,012,773 to $44,712,768.
The bump stems in part from a $6.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development supplemented by additional cost sharing from the state of Iowa to Larry Weber, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering, for a project to study the Iowa watershed and a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for David Cwiertny, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and faculty research engineer at IIHR, to develop a Sustainable Water Development graduate program.
Iowa also continues advanced driving safety research. Dan McGehee, associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and director of the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the UI Center for Computer-Aided Design, received two grants totaling $1.6 million toward continued research into vehicle safety related to human factors and automated-vehicle testing in Iowa.
Overall, fiscal year 2017 saw an estimated 1 percent increase in both total external funding and funding that supports research and scholarship at the University of Iowa.
Total external funding (which includes gift commitments and charitable grants supporting research through the UI Foundation) rose from $551.9 million in FY16 to $557.7 million in FY17. Meanwhile, grants and contracts that support discovery at the UI increased from $437.9 million to $443.3 million—the most dollars awarded to the UI since FY11.
Despite the overall increase in funding, Dan Reed, UI vice president for research and economic development, says federal dollars for UI research have continued to contract by an average of 1.4 percent per year over the past decade. This decrease includes less competitive biomedical research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Reed says that’s all the more reason why universities like Iowa need to nurture more creative, ambitious, and interdisciplinary research proposals, something his office’s newly formed Research Development Office is seeking to accomplish.
Despite the challenges, Reed emphasizes that scholars and researchers at Iowa continue to seek answers to life’s important questions.
“Discovery—especially the game-changing variety—is fueled not only by money but by vision, imagination, and cooperation,” Reed says. “It’s about forging new frontiers of discovery and innovation and promoting a culture of creativity that inspires and motivates.”