College of Engineering Benefits from ARRA Grants through UI

Friday, August 14, 2009

University of Iowa leaders have announced plans for awarding $14 million in federal stimulus funds to support projects that will help create a stronger university.  The funding also will benefit areas of the College of Engineering.

The UI was appropriated $35.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding for use in fiscal year (FY) 2010. The university used $20 million of that amount to help its General Education Fund and other state-supported units transition to FY 2011 while minimizing disruptions for students and immediate layoffs. 

Most of the remaining ARRA funding will now be used to fund proposals that emerged from a competitive process as the best ideas to promote both the longer term purposes of ARRA and the UI strategic plan. ARRA funds in the amount of $1.5 million have been set aside for allocation later this year.

UI President Sally Mason and her leadership team approved 18 proposals. Four of these proposals with infrastructure components require additional approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Academic and administrative units submitted more than 200 proposals, totaling $100 million, competing for the $15.5 million in available ARRA funding.

The proposals are clustered in five strategic areas.  The College of Engineering directly benefits from three of the five:

1. Transforming undergraduate education with "Active Learning Centers": Innovative, collaborative, and cost-effective learning in high-tech classrooms.

2. Sustainability on campus: Energy conservation and water quality. 

Clean water: The UI Water Plant purifies water from the Iowa River and provides clean drinking water for the campus.  The College of Engineering maintains student learning and research labs in the facility.  The project will provide needed renovations and additions for student and faculty research experiences on water quality and sustainability.

3. Educational opportunities for Iowans in their home communities.

4. Strengthening research capabilities and advanced education. 

Med Labs Faculty Start-up: The UI will be hiring faculty and staff in anticipation of the opening of the Iowa Instititute for Biomedical Discovery.  ARRA funding for the efforts will create 30 new positions that will occupy the created research space.  The Iowa Institute for Biomedical Imaging, a research unit of the College of Engineering, will be headquartered in the new facility.

Instrumentation for research and graduate and undergraduate education.  The UI will develop an interdisciplinary and laboratory-based curriculum on nanoscale devices in engineering, which is expected to generate $200,000 per year in external resources, in addition to providing undergraduate instruction in nanotechnology. The UI also plans to acquire DNA sequencing robots to increase automated sequencing, thereby reducing costs for personnel and outsourcing; a genome sequencer for personalized medicine; and an unlimited campus-wide license for DNA analysis software in lieu of more expensive, multiple licenses obtained by different campus units

5. Beyond traditional markets: Recruiting of diverse domestic and international students.

The UI needs to recruit strategically in both traditional and new markets to achieve enrollment goals and contribute to the future Iowa workforce.  Various offices on campus -- including Engineering Admissions -- will develop and implement an integrated enrollment management plan to expand access, recruitment, diversity, and academic success of domestic and international students.

Proposals that include an infrastructure component of $500,000 or more are subject to approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, or by the Board Office. The Board of Regents is expected to consider those proposals that require formal action at its September meeting. 

By creating efficiencies and new opportunities, the proposals will help the university aggregate budgets, avoid $2.6 million in recurring costs, and generate $2.7 million in net revenue beginning in FY 2011. The budget savings and net revenue generation will assist the university in avoiding greater than inflationary tuition rate increases for resident undergraduate students in FY 2011.

More information about the ARRA funds competitive process and the approved proposals are available online at (pdf 68kb).