Institute promotes research enterprise growth

Photo courtesy of news.gatech.edu

1.2 billion dollars: that was the record total of Tech’s research enterprise in fiscal year (FY) 2021, and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research (EVPR) expects to break that record in FY 2022.

As research grows at the Institute, the EVPR’s office has laid out plans to hire “additional employees at all levels, including 19 new positions for [FY] 2023 in research administration, grants and contracts accounting, and research integrity and compliance,” according to an official statement.

Chaouki T. Abdallah, the EVPR, serves as one of three Executive Vice Presidents within President Cabrera’s Executive Leadership Team and works with leadership across the Institute to foster growth in the Tech research enterprise.

He explains that these investments in personnel and resources “will enable us to fully serve the strategic research endeavors of the Institute and ensure our enterprise can innovate and scale to its full potential.”

But to better understand where research at Tech is headed, it is important to know what it consists of, how it is funded, and the way it is organized.

As it stands, Tech’s research enterprise – which consists of grants, contracts, and other sponsored activities – is expansive. Research is conducted in the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), ten interdisciplinary research institutes, teams of faculty, students, and research throughout the six colleges, and hundreds of research labs and centers across the Institute.

Research at Tech covers all fields addressing issues such as artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, and critical infrastructure to bio-medicine, architectural design, and European security.

Researchers at Tech have explored a wide range of questions over the past year alone. Last May, School of History and Sociology associate professor Amit Prasad examined why COVID-19 conspiracy theories spread, leading a different approach than characterizing these theories as “anti-science.”

This past February, a team of researchers in the School of Economics examined the impact of trade liberalization on gender wage gaps and work patterns.

Just last week, cybersecurity improvements developed by GTRI in collaboration with the U.S. Navy are anticipated to improve protection for the identification system used to track commercial and military ships across the globe.

To be able to explore so many different issues, Tech has relied on an increasing number of grants and greater funding over the past few years.

In FY 2020, Tech ranked nineteenth among universities across the nation in research spending and was the only university without a medical school in the top 20, according to a National Science Foundation survey. The economic impact of Tech’s research on Georgia alone was $4 billion dollars.

Tech’s large investments in research have been made possible by the many grants that it has received for research in a variety of fields.

In particular, Tech receives millions of dollars in funding from the federal government.

In October, the Department of Defense awarded Tech a $6 million grant spanning three years to enhance U.S. hypersonic capabilities by tapping into Tech’s aerospace and mechanical engineering research portfolio.

Last December, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency awarded Tech a grant for the creation of an artificial intelligence manufacturing corridor in Georgia as part of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

And in March, Cisco funded 30 research projects across Georgia Tech including the Institute of People and Technology which received funding for projects to develop augmented reality tools to improve healthcare workforce productivity and contactless inventory management solutions.

The Advanced Technology Development Center at Tech has also attracted $3 billion in investment capital, generating $12 billion in revenue.

With such large investments and grants, Tech has been able to significantly grow its research impact.

With increasing expenditures and investments, and a new strategic plan for research developed by the Commission on Research Next, the Institute saw the need for administrative changes to the EVPR’s office.

The Office of the Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance (A&F) and the Office of the General Counsel worked alongside the EVPR, with consultation from Deloitte, to re-evaluate the Institute’s research organization.

Currently, the EVPR’s office oversees all research units at the Institute with leadership for Corporate Engagement, Strategy & Administration, GTRI, Interdisciplinary Research, the Enterprise Innovation Institute, Research Development and Operations, Research Administration and Commercialization.

The EVPR also works in tandem with the Provost’s Office to oversee academic research units, the Office of General Counsel for grant compliance and ethics, the Office of Development for research and corporate growth, and A&F to manage research financing and planning.

The Georgia Tech Institute Relations team has also played a crucial role in securing many federal and state funding opportunities, grants and contracts for research and development.

Among the changes to the EVPR’s office include the establishment of a Chief Research Operations Officer (CROO) that will manage the newly created Associate Vice President (AVP) of Research Integrity Assurance and the Vice President of Research Development and Operations.

Two additional positions – the AVP of Research Administration reporting to the CROO and the General Manager (GM) of the Georgia Tech Research Corporation (GTRC) and Georgia Tech Applied Research Corporation (GTARC) – will be created by splitting the current position of Vice President and GM of GTRC and GTARC.

While these changes may seem trivial, they will significantly reshape the Tech research enterprise.

As Abdallah explains, “[by] investing in our research infrastructure and creating more efficient processes, we ensure that all faculty and staff are fully supported as they carry on the work to improve the human condition.”

In the next year, it remains to be seen what the impact of these structural changes will yield for research at Tech.

One thing is for sure though: the Institute will certainly be creating the next in many ways to improve the daily lives of countless people across the world. For more information on research around campus, visit research.gatech.edu.