ORLANDO – UCF faculty brought in $136 million in research funding in 2017, a year that was also marked by national recognition for the number of patents issued to UCF, tech transfer excellence and overall innovation.
Of all the research funding collected, $73.9 million came from federal sources, $41.1 million from private industry and $21 million from state and local government agencies.
The College of Engineering and Computer Science garnered the largest proportion of the total with $33 million, followed by the College of Sciences with $16 million and the Institute for Simulation and Training $14 million.
“We’re off to a good start with funding,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “But where we truly see the impact is in what our researchers are doing to help our communities — from finding new ways to make solar energy systems more efficient and affordable, to improving forecasting methods for sea level rise, to exploring vaccines that have the potential to eradicate disease. It is in this broad array of areas where you can see UCF making a big difference. As we continue to grow our funding, we’ll have more opportunities to have an impact in our Central Florida community and beyond.”
UCF’s research is already getting national attention.
Earlier this year the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association announced the University of Central Florida ranks 41st in the world for the number of U.S. patents issued in 2016. From this report, UCF ranks 21st among public universities in the nation.
The recognition is an important one because patents often lead to industrial innovations that impact daily life.
UCF was ranked in the top 25 in the nation in technology transfer, the process of disseminating technology developed as a result of research, along with Columbia University, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University in a report from The Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank.
U.S. News & World Report’s Best College guide this month (September) also named UCF one of the most innovative universities in the nation, alongside Harvard, Stanford and Duke. UCF was No. 25 out of nearly 1,400 universities and colleges in the nation. UCF also was ranked No. 91 in engineering doctorate programs. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report’s Best Graduate Schools of 2018 also recognized 22 UCF programs in the top 100 in their respective fields.
Professors are working on projects that could potentially revolutionize industries and save lives.
For example, Engineering Professor Shawn Putnam is working to change the way electronic devices use and dissipate heat. His work is designed to help keep up with the global demand for faster, more powerful and smaller devices such as computers, radars and lasers. He was awarded a $510,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support this work.
The Department of Energy this past year supported UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center and the College of Engineering and Computer Science with almost $4 million of funding to expand their work in solar energy, energy efficiency and improving air quality in homes.
UCF researchers from the College of Medicine, the NanoScience Technology Center, the College of Science and the College of Engineering & Computer Science received more than $1.3 million from the state to come up with ways to combat the Zika virus.
And an assistant professor of philosophy conducted fieldwork at the Dunhuang Mogao Caves along the Silk Road in China this summer. Lanlan Kuang is one of a select group of international scholars with access to the caves which house the largest and most complete repository of Buddhist art, murals and painted sculptures in the world. She will share her findings at conferences around the world including the International Symposium on Cultural and Art Exchanges and Cooperation in Dunhuang, China, in October and at the national conference of Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory in November.
All this research and the funding that comes with it is also important for one other reason.
“Research is fundamental to our mission of educating our students,” Klonoff said. “Hands-on research is essential to preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers, so they can help us with tomorrow’s challenges.”