Initiative One: Discovering Tomorrow’s Inventions Today

To become one of the nation’s best public research universities, UTD must invest heavily in research.  The University will have to focus those investments in critical areas of opportunity that are logical in terms of current strengths, are of high importance to the Metroplex and the State, and represent areas where the most important discoveries are needed and can realistically be made.  UTD must ensure that technology that is developed is transferred where appropriate to the private sector and that this technology and knowledge transfer serves as a major driver for economic development in the Metroplex.

Action 1.1: Research Enterprise Initiative

The Eric Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science has launched a campaign appropriately named “Invent Tomorrow.”  The collaboration of the State of Texas, Texas Instruments, The University of Texas System, and UTD will soon result in one of the most technologically advanced research buildings in the nation.  Beyond the construction of a new building, this venture involves the investment of significant new resources in advancing Engineering and Computer Science and the raising of private funds to support the project.  UTD stands poised not only to create new technology and spin off high tech companies but also to build on its strengths in nanotechnology, cochlear implants, geospatial information systems, and advanced telecommunications systems and to establish new degree programs and academic units in materials sciences engineering, mechanical engineering, systems engineering, and arts and technology.  These new programs must remain agile and avoid becoming traditional, stagnant academic units, and the technology produced must be designed to serve the citizens of the Metroplex and the world.  UTD is committed to delivering the anticipated results and will meet or exceed expectations for the project.

Action 1.2: The BioWorld

The 21st century has been called by many “The Century of Biology.”  Regardless of whether biology and biomedical advances will, upon reflection a hundred years from now, define the 21st century, there is no doubt that advances in biomedicine over the next several decades will likely turn out to be some of the most significant advances in human history.  UTD must position itself to contribute to and play a leadership role in developing those advances.  The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ commitment to expanding and enhancing its emphasis on “living systems” is an important step in securing the future.  New technology that recognizes the advances in, for example, sequencing the human genome will enable doctors to treat diseases in ways not imaginable 10 years ago—today, UTD can develop tailor-made treatments and new drugs that can save millions of lives and protect against bioterrorism.  Similarly, new technology is waiting to be developed that will protect the environment and the security of the nation.  To these ends, the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has teamed with the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and other Schools and with UTSWMC to form programs in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Biostatistics, Bio-Imaging, Biodefense, Biotechnology, and Systems Biology.  The proposed Department of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Computer Science will further enhance these collaborative efforts and will play a significant role in developing both the technology and the knowledge that will make UTD a major player in the BioWorld.  These collaborative programs provide an integrated approach to creating tomorrow’s technology, and the University will place high priority on investing in these areas to ensure that they achieve a level of national visibility and excellence and that that technology reaches the public domain.

Action 1.3: Nanotechnology

The advent of more powerful microscopes about 15 years ago that could “see” individual atoms revolutionized the world of micro-science and caused an explosion of research and advances in “nano-science.”  Though the fruits of this work have yet to yield a whole new class of marketable materials, the promise of such materials is so compelling that “nanoscale” research will continue to be a major field of discovery for many years and will undoubtedly spur many technology transfer developments in this post-silicon era.  With the collaborative efforts of the Strategic Partnership for Research in Nanotechnology (SPRING), universities in Texas have partnered with UTD in its nanotechnology research efforts.  The nanotechnology team has already produced the first transparent carbon nanotube sheets that are stronger than same-weight steel sheets and have a demonstrated applicability in several commercial areas, and recently the work of UTD researchers in nanotechnology was featured in the journal Science.  UTD is well positioned to be a leader in the creation of new nanotechnology inventions that will benefit numerous industries, including electronics and telecommunications.  The University must scale up its operations and seek even more partnerships in this rapidly evolving field of research.  The University will make the support of its nanoscale research and teaching a top priority through faculty hiring, infrastructure investment, program development, and technology transfer. 


Updated: May 1, 2012