Virginia Tech research expenditures continue to grow

BLACKSBURG, Va., Feb. 10, 2004 – Research expenditure growth at Virginia Tech grew 6.6 percent to $247.8 million for fiscal year (FY) 2003, the university controller's office reported to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in late January.

In FY 2002, Virginia Tech reported total research and development expenditures of $232.6 million to the NSF -- a 12 percent increase from 2001.

Federally sponsored research expenditures grew 18.3 percent to $98.1 million in FY 2003, and industrial expenditures grew 18.7 percent to $24.7 million, but state and local support of research dropped 7.9 percent -- more than $5 million. Sponsored research includes projects paid for by federal agencies, such as NSF's support of programs ranging from development of new materials to creation of 3-D design software for architects and engineers, and by industries, such as the development of sensors for transformers, being supported by a consortium of electric companies.

"It is the faculty that undertake programs and raise the funds to support them," said Jim Blair, interim vice provost for research. "What is significant and worthy of high regard by Virginia's citizens is that research activity and funding at Virginia Tech has increased despite a reduction in faculty numbers and increased teaching loads as a consequence. Departments, centers, and faculty members among themselves are cooperating to make good things happen here."

Faculty members are submitting fewer proposals to funding agencies but requesting larger awards, Blair says. In addition to sponsored research, expenditures reported to NSF include institutional and state support of research in the form of faculty and staff time and the support of agricultural experiment stations statewide.

The NSF ranks universities based on expenditures, but has not yet reported the 2002 ranking. Virginia Tech was 49th in 2001. The fiscal year ends June 30. It takes until the end of January to gather and report the previous fiscal year's expenditures to NSF, and takes NSF another year to report standings because almost 600 colleges and universities are included in the survey.

In 2000, Virginia Tech President Charles Steger has challenged the university to achieve top 30 status by 2010. The higher ranking will provide resources for teaching programs as well as research that will improve the quality of life in the state and the nation, he explains.