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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2015 / 02 

College of Engineering breaks new ground, climbs in national research rankings

February 23, 2015

Jack Lesko
Jack Lesko, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Engineering

Virginia Tech's College of Engineering has climbed to its highest ranking in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) report on engineering schools' research expenditures.

The new survey, reporting on figures for fiscal year 2013, shows the college rising to ninth place with $214.48 million in research expenditures. This number is more than double the typical spending levels before 2005. The college had placed 10th in the six years prior to fiscal year 2013.

"We have seen a 9 percent annual growth for the last decade, and I am very grateful to the faculty, staff, and students of the college who, in a highly competitive arena, do such a fine job of attracting research funds to the college," said Richard C. Benson, dean of the college and the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Chair of Engineering.

Overall, Virginia Tech climbed to 38th in the NSF's annual survey of higher education research expenditures. With more than $496 million in research and development activity for fiscal year 2013, Virginia Tech remains the university with the largest research portfolio in Virginia, and the only one in the top 50.

The College of Engineering's expenditures are 43 percent of the total for the university.

Virginia Tech's College of Engineering continues to be on the forefront of innovation and invention, working in many disruptive technology areas. These include the mobile Internet, electronic textiles, power electronics, robotics, data analytics, wireless communications, cybersecurity, computer visualization, additive manufacturing, propulsion, autonomous vehicles, energy harvesting, renewable energy, air quality, and nanomaterials.

One of the more recent additions is the Hume Center for National Security and Technology. It provides research, education, and outreach programs in national security in the focus areas of wireless, cybersecurity, big data, and space systems and can conduct classified research in an academic environment. Virginia Tech has strategic partnerships with intelligence organizations and supports security clearances for faculty and students.

Strategic and comprehensive relationships with industry have also been formed. 

"The College of Engineering has also recently become a Rolls Royce University Technology Center and, in coordination with our membership in the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, cooperative research with industry in manufacturing and propulsion have taken off," said Jack Lesko,  associate dean for research and graduate studies. "This in combination with the addition of new facilities like the Advanced Propulsion and Power Laboratory  in our Corporate Research Center expands our reach from basic to more applied research with a direct impact on industry success."

On the other end of the spectrum, with some five decades passing since its origins, Wireless@Virginia Tech has continually evolved with the communications technologies and remains today at the forefront of applied spectrum sharing solutions with initiatives such as the Hospital Care of the Future. 

Virginia Tech is further advancing mobile Internet technology to improve medical service delivery, to raise productivity, and to decrease costs.

The College of Engineering is also the lead in the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech, attracting a host of new interdisciplinary research dollars to the university.

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