Utah State tops all colleges in space research spending

By Megan M. Roe
The Herald Journal
November 2, 2006

Logan, Utah—Utah State University topped all colleges in space research spending in 2004, according to recently released statistics from the National Science Foundation.

The school had $54,872,000 in aeronautical/astronautical engineering research and development expenditures for the fiscal year 2004 — the last year for which figures were released.

“It says that USU is a great engineering school in the aerospace sciences and is recognized as such throughout the country,” Space Dynamics Lab Deputy Director Harry Ames said.

The money spent came mostly through contractor grants with federal agencies such as NASA and the Department of Defense, though private entities provided funding for some of it, said Lorraine Walker, senior business officer in USU Research office. The SDL gets the contracts and grants, and faculty members in different USU departments run projects with that money, Walker said.

“We have faculty in aerospace engineering, physics and the Space Dynamics Lab,” said Brent Miller, USU’s vice president of research. “These units together create a synergy and capacity to do space and upper atmosphere research that is quite unique.”

SDL’s yearly budget runs around $50 million, and a significant amount of the money is used on aerospace research, Ames said. Though some of that budget is not counted as academic, “virtually 100 percent” of it came either directly from federal dollars or was funded federally through private companies.

“The university and Space Dynamics Laboratory have a symbiotic relationship where the university helps credibility with the Space Dynamics Laboratory, and we help the university with credibility about getting outside pure academics into the world of applied science and research,” Ames said.

Through its physics and aerospace programs, USU sends more student-engineered projects into space than any other institution, Miller said.

“There are many great professors and students who have opportunities in this realm that are not available to students at others institutions,” Miller said.

USU was ranked 17th overall for engineering research and development expenditures in the NSF study.

© 2006 The Herald Journal