|Governor Steve Beshear and NOVA Center Director Ed Kintzel discuss the capabilities of the Large Chamber-Scanning Electron Microscope (LC-STEM) at the Center for Research and Development. The LC-SEM is the only one of its kind available for public use at a North American university.|
Engaging Students in Research
Research is defined as the discovery of new knowledge that leads to the development of new technologies, methods, materials, and/or uses. WKU students significantly enrich their academic experiences by engaging in applied research, which is important to both academics and economic development.
Involving students in relevant research, especially at the undergraduate level, gives them marketable experience that serves them well whether they go on to graduate school or enter the workforce. It also enables the University to partner with area businesses and industries to find solutions to real problems, further contributing to the regional economy.
The Applied Research and Technology Program (ARTP), approved by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education in 1999, began operations in 2000 and by 2010 helped the Ogden College of Science and Engineering increase external funding 14 fold to $14 million. The ARTP is a multidisciplinary program containing 17 scientific and service-oriented centers and institutes. The program is designed to prepare students for the knowledge-based global economy while meeting the research and technical needs of the community, state, and nation.
Each center operates within a cooperative and interdisciplinary framework to apply state-of-the-art science toward finding cost effective solutions to environmental and health issues and to the technological problems of government and industry.
Center for Research and Development
In 2000, WKU, with the help of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, transformed a run-down shopping mall into a thriving, high-tech business and research center. Today, the WKU Center for Research and Development brings together scientists, engineers, WKU faculty, and students for research collaborations. It is home to:
■ The Applied Physics Institute (API), a multidisciplinary center performing research and development projects in nanoscale physics, material science, nuclear physics, and cyber physical systems. The API is internationally recognized for the development of technology to detect chemical, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats through non-intrusive measures.
■ The Institute for Combustion Science and Environmental Technology (ICSET), which includes the Combustion, Thermal Analysis, and Mercury Emissions Control labs. Services include polymer, fuel and pharmaceutical analysis, materials identification, mercury emissions analysis and control, and clean coal combustion technology.
■ The Advanced Materials Institute, which specializes in the analysis and characterization of a variety of materials and provides third-party testing of materials for regional and national businesses.
■ The Cyber Defense Center, which is dedicated to protecting important computer networks from cyber attacks.
■ The Bowling Green Innovation and Commercialization Center, part of the Kentucky Innovation Network. The ICC helps technology companies through preliminary business assessment, business development, and ultimately Capitalization (the ABCs of business development) at no cost to the business.
■ The Nondestructive Analysis (NOVA) Center, which houses one of two large chamber scanning electron microscopes in North America and the only one available for public use.
■ The Lost River Data Center, a partnership with Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, that includes a High Performance Computer Center offering businesses a secure site to locate servers and business critical data.
■ The Small Business Accelerator, which provides technology-based businesses with business support services and community resources to help them survive and grow during the start-up period.
More than 600 new jobs have been created as a result of the business growth at the WKU Center for Research and Development.
Student and faculty research
The University encourages research activities through programs such as the Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) grants. FUSE grants are designed to support undergraduate students’ intellectual development by fostering active engagement in the areas of research, creative and scholarly activities, or artistic performances.
Students and faculty have presented research findings at national and international conferences, such as the American Astronomical Society, American Meteorological Society, and the International Congress on Scientific Research in Show Caves. WKU research has taken place on almost every continent and has been recognized by NASA, National Geographic, and the National Science Foundation.
The Gordon Ford College of Business is helping develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. The College offers a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship, and students gain practical experience and engage in networking through organizations such as Students in Free Enterprise. In addition, four Centers of Excellence provide services and educational opportunities to students and the community. They are:
■ The Center for Applied Economics, which serves as an economic information access point for Bowling Green and south central Kentucky, provides a bridge between technical research in economics and the local community on relevant topics, provides fee-based studies, and engages graduate students in applied analysis.
■ The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which integrates academics and action research by developing collaborative programs across all disciplines and generates new venture start-ups.
■ The Center for Professional Selling, one of 13 fully certified sales programs in the United States as a member of the University Sales Center Alliance.
■ The BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, which is committed to educating students, faculty, and the general public about capitalism.
“President Ransdell was so interested in moving that [Center for Research and Development] forward. Now over 600 jobs have been created – good paying, high-tech jobs. “I think down the road this and the Gatton Academy are the two things that WKU will be known for that will be transformational in our community and our whole region.”
– Kentucky Representative Jody Richards, Bowling Green