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CEID ups UTSA’s game in quest for national recognition

CEID ups UTSA’s game in quest for national recognition

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SEPTEMBER 9, 2021 — The University of Texas at San Antonio is already reaping the benefits of its new College of Engineering and Integrated Design (CEID). Building on the new collaborations taking shape, faculty in the college have a competitive advantage in their pursuit of larger and more dynamic research grants.

“This fits completely into our destination to become a Carnegie R1 research institution, which is part of UTSA’s 10-year strategic plan,” said CEID Dean JoAnn Browning. “Many of the large research initiatives require the interdisciplinary collaborations that were not happening purely within a single discipline, such as mechanical engineering or architecture.”


“Breaking the boundaries in the way we pursue research in this college will affect the way we teach and educate our students.”



David Akopian is CEID’s associate dean of inclusive and research excellence. He says the new college removes boundaries and promotes big thinking in pursuing research grants. An example is a $50 million grant available through the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. He adds one of the grant’s qualifications is being able to demonstrate what’s called “convergent research,” the capability to bring different departments and expertise together to synthesize something innovative and new.

“Looking at the grant requirements again, this is exactly what we’re doing at UTSA through the new CEID. This changes our approach from whether we should apply to we need to apply,” Akopian said. “We are adopting a different and more complex organizational culture that will become more sophisticated through integrating, synthesizing, separating and experimenting to discover optimal arrangements. That’s an interesting development.”

This new approach is already paying dividends through expanded partnerships with the City of San Antonio. One example is a collaboration with the city’s R&D League. Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in CEID and the College of Health, Community and Planning are enrolled in a service learning projects course called EPICS to create a new platform that will match UTSA researchers with city departments and challenges.

"In addition to the strong projects and partnerships with the City of San Antonio in place, the new combined CEID converges a wider range of city-related expertise, diverse discipline knowledge, and community engagement experience,” Akopian said. “The challenges facing San Antonio, like COVID recovery, climate change mitigation and inequality reduction, call for such convergent solutions.”

Akopian adds this transformation will result in trickle-down benefits to students through more interdisciplinary research projects. Electrical engineering students working with planning students, for example, is just one of many scenarios that will become the norm through CEID.

“Sophistication means more options and modes of studying for the students,” he said. “Breaking the boundaries in the way we pursue research in this college will affect the way we teach and educate our students.”


EXPLORE FURTHER
⇒ Learn more about the university's Integrated Design Initiative.

There’s untapped potential through CEID to generate millions of dollars in grants and create stimulating interdisciplinary research opportunities for students and for faculty. Throughout this evolution, Browning wants to make sure societal impact remains part of the college’s focus.

“CEID will take us in new directions pursuing cutting-edge research, but it also needs to support our commitment to solve grand challenges,” Browning said. “Grand challenges are many times grand research challenges. Our ultimate goal as a professional is to ensure that our solutions meet humanity's needs.”

Bruce Forey



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.