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Tech researchers set record for external funding, top $23 million for 2021-2022
October 4, 2022

COOKEVILLE, TN -- Tennessee Tech University officials announced that externally funded research topped $23 million, a new high for Tech researchers, and the fourth consecutive year for the university above $20 million.

“The efforts of Tech’s researchers resulted in another record-breaking year for external research and public service funding,” said Tech President Phil Oldham. “External funding allows our talented faculty and staff to create, advance and apply knowledge to expand opportunity and economic competitiveness through their impactful research and public service work.”

For 2021-2022, the total amount of external funding was $23.65 million, a 4% increase over the previous year. Tech researchers saw 189 sponsored research activations made in 2021-2022, a 9% increase over the previous year.

The top funding agencies for the year were the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Tech is in the midst of a strategic initiative to increase externally funded research to $40 million by 2025. The Carnegie Classification, the national system for classifying colleges and universities, for Tech is an R2 university — a doctoral university with high research activity. Criteria for this classification includes research funding.

For 2021-2022, 38 faculty members obtained funding of more than $100,000 each. These individuals will be inducted into the 2021-2022 Wings Up 100, a group that recognizes researchers who have more than $100,000 in external funding in a given year.

Four researchers topped $1 million in external funding: Martha Howard, associate professor of early childhood special education; Kevin Liska, director of Tech’s iCube; Ambareen Siraj, former professor of computer science and founding director of Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (currently with the National Science Foundation); and Rory Roberts, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Six of Tech’s colleges received at least $1 million in outside funding. Tech’s College of Engineering accounted for the largest funding amount ($7.53 million), followed by the College of Education ($3.59 million), the College of Arts & Sciences ($2.87 million), the College of Business ($2.85 million), the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing ($1.09 million), and the College of Agriculture & Human Ecology ($1.06 million).

The $23.65 million total for the year included $4 million in state funding for Tech’s three Centers of Excellence (The Center for Energy Systems Research; the Center for Manufacturing Research; and the Center for the Management, Utilization & Protection of Water Resources) and the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center.

There were other noteworthy achievements in research during the year. For the first time, three of Tech’s researchers each received NSF CAREER Awards, which are among the most prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation. And student researcher Brayden Copeland won the national, prestigious and highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship, the first such winner from Tech since 1999.

During the year, 199 Tech researchers, as either the PI or co-PI, submitted 189 proposals for external funding, some of which may turn into activations in future years.

“Our faculty and staff researchers put in a lot of effort to obtain this important funding,” Oldham said. “This enables them to better serve their students, the state and the world.”


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