Auburn University Board of Trustees approves Applied Research Institute

Published: Nov 11, 2022 11:15 AM

By Austin Phillips

The Auburn University Board of Trustees approved a proposal Friday to form an Applied Research Institute that will represent an aggregation and culmination of various defense, aerospace, national security and biotech efforts at Auburn University. The proposed institute will serve as a hub to coordinate, organize and market these many efforts to Auburn's external constituents.

The institute will be housed out of Auburn’s Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, hosted by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering with oversight by the College of Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“This institute will provide a more streamlined structure for Auburn operations in Huntsville and it will become the main point of entry for the Huntsville community to engage with Auburn University for applied research and development,” said Auburn University President Chris Roberts. “There is a tremendous potential to expand Auburn's footprint to significantly greater levels of funding from the defense, aerospace and national security sectors, especially in the Huntsville area.”

The Institute will concentrate on applied research and outreach involving faculty from multiple disciplines and units across the university including the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; the College of Veterinary Medicine; the College of Sciences and Mathematics; the College of Architecture, Design and Construction; the Harbert College of Business (Department of Systems and Technology); College of Liberal Arts (Department of Psychology); College of Education; College of Agriculture; the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment; and more.

“The Auburn University Applied Research Institute will enhance the research and outreach programs at the university by elevating the stature of our applied research programs in aerospace, defense, biotech and national security while also improving our competitiveness for extramural funding,” said Jim Weyhenmeyer, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development. “This institute will be the vehicle to further move Auburn's research programs to the forefront of innovation and competitiveness through the 21st century.”

Auburn has experienced significant growth in its overall research program in recent years. The university’s research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation increased 96% since 2015, and from 2015-20 Auburn had the highest growth rate of all peer SEC and Southern Regional Education Board institutions. The university is now ranked in the top 100 research institutions in the U.S., based on the most recent National Science Foundation HERD Survey.

Program areas that have experienced major growth are mainly in the defense, aerospace and national security sectors. Areas of major funding include canine detection systems for homeland security; plasma science and engineering applied to food safety; space weather forecasting; small satellite systems; advanced manufacturing and materials; additive manufacturing (particularly for aviation and space systems); autonomous systems; secure communications systems; cyber physical security; hardware security; artificial intelligence; systems engineering; blast resistant structural design; biomedical engineering, biomechanics and warfighter performance; and assured position, navigation and timing.

The newly formed institute offers the potential to significantly increase extramural research awards each year, particularly in the Huntsville/Redstone market. Auburn’s current Huntsville customers include the Space Command; NASA; Space and Missile Defense Command; Missile Defense Agency; Missile and Space Intelligence Center; U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command; Redstone Test Center; FBI; and numerous commercial partners.

“Through the creation of this Applied Research Institute, coupled with the opening of the Auburn University Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, we are building on the university’s mission by fostering research and outreach programs in response to some of the most pressing aerospace, defense, biotech and national security challenges,” said Steve Taylor, interim dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. “We look forward to working with our partners in Huntsville, and across the state and region, as we drive our economy forward and improve quality of life for our citizens.”

The university will soon begin a national search for the institute’s executive director, who will lead the effort.

Media Contact: Austin Phillips, austinp@auburn.edu, 334-844-2444
The institute will be housed out of Auburn’s Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, hosted by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering with oversight by the College of Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The institute will be housed out of Auburn’s Research and Innovation Campus in Huntsville, hosted by the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering with oversight by the College of Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

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