As a College of Engineering faculty member who has to balance research and teaching, there are times when a little extra help could make all the difference in securing funding for your research program. Experts from the Engineering Research Institute (ERI) can help you create a winning proposal or even establish the framework that will help you grow your research program into a center.
ERI’s Accelerating Collaboration in Research Initiative (ACRI) is supported by the dean’s office, and it is available to all faculty members in the College of Engineering.
Rachael Voas, research project manager with ERI, says ACRI grants help facilitate partnerships and identify valuable resources to help engineering faculty succeed in their research. In her role, she supports faculty who have received ACRI grants and helps keep them on track.
“The college and university have so many strong research programs and new ideas that we want to help grow to the next level. Whether that’s through collaborations that may lead to nationally recognized centers of excellence, or through grants from a variety of funding agencies, ACRI can offer support to all levels of faculty.”
To share more about the program, Voas answered a few common questions below.
What are the two grant programs in ACRI?
Strategic Research Thrust Program
Grants for the Strategic Research Thrusts Program are to support multi-year efforts, to help you establish collaborative partnerships that will allow you to build a large research program that addresses emerging needs. Programs awarded this grant will receive $75,000 for first year with a chance to renew for the next year at the same amount.
Proposals are accepted twice a year for this program. The next deadline is March 4, 2016.
Large Proposal Support Program
ACRI’s Large Proposal Support Program provides one-time funding to support faculty members pursuing large competitive grants (proposal budgets ≥ $750,000) for specific funding opportunities. A team may be granted $10,000-50,000 under this program.
Applications for ACRI support for this program are accepted at anytime.
Unspent funds in either of these programs are reverted back to the college.
What kind of support is provided through an ACRI grant?
There are several ways faculty can use the grants. Many use the funds for hiring external grant writers/consultants as well as hosting guest speakers and partners on campus to build future partnerships. Even hosting a meeting to connect faculty across campus can be a great way to generate new ideas and share excitement for research ideas.
ERI can also help those with ACRI grants find proposal opportunities that would be a good fit, make sure the vision of the research program is being communicated and even help with budget support.
What types of projects have received funding?
ACRI currently supports four Strategic Research Thrust teams:
- Materials for Extreme Environments (Mufit Akinc, professor of materials science and engineering)
- Icing Physics and Anti-/De-icing Technology (Hui Hu, professor of aerospace engineering)
- Multiphase Flow Research (Shankar Subramaniam, professor of mechanical engineering, and Rodney Fox, professor of chemical and biological engineering)
- Transformative Research on Advanced Thermal Technology (Yue Wu, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering)
The Large Proposal Support Program has helped faculty submit compelling proposals to a variety of agencies:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP)
- Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)
- Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
- Office of Naval Research (ONR)
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
- U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
What advice do you have for someone applying for an ACRI grant?
For faculty looking at applying to the Strategic Research Thrust Program, make sure you have a leader with a strong vision who is fully committed to developing the thrust into a full center. These programs don’t necessarily begin with a specific proposal to pursue, but the interdisciplinary team should be aware of current state-of-the-art projects and agency/industry priorities that shape the relevant funding environment. Always keep in mind how your research can impact the world through fundamental advances, new discoveries or technological breakthroughs.
For the Large Proposals Support Program, be sure you thoroughly read and understand the solicitation’s goals so you can provide a response that addresses the defined problem. This is especially pertinent to solicitations released by DoD agencies. In all cases, the identified expertise at Iowa State should be highly relevant to the solicitation.
Also be sure to know and identify what makes your approach to the research idea/problem viable and innovative. We can help even in the initial stages of developing your application to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Who can apply for an ACRI grant?
Any faculty member with a primary appointment in the College of Engineering can apply for these grants. You can also have PIs on a team from other colleges. We encourage you to contact Raj Aggarwal with any questions or research ideas you think might qualify for ACRI funding.
To discuss ACRI funding, review the process and understand award criteria, you can contact Raj Aggarwal, director of ERI, at 515 294-9824 or firstname.lastname@example.org.