Strategic investments in state-of-the-art equipment, laboratories and buildings, as well as hiring expert faculty, have expanded UTEP’s research capacity and accelerated the growth of its research portfolio.
Research activity runs the gamut from additive manufacturing to the Zika virus, and is the result of competitively awarded funding from a wide variety of federal, state and private organizations. Annual research expenditures are nearly $95 million and the total grant portfolio exceeds $300 million. UTEP is ranked No. 4 in Texas for federal research expenditures by public universities, after The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston.
Research will soon be enhanced by the $85 million Interdisciplinary Research Building, expected to be completed in early 2020. The building will add 162,000 square feet of critically needed lab and collaborative work space for interdisciplinary project teams.
One addition already making a difference in aerospace, manufacturing and energy research is the Technology Research and Innovation Acceleration Park (tRIAC) in Fabens, Texas, about 30 minutes from El Paso’s city limits. When completed, tRIAC will include a test site and data center, a rocket tower and incubator facilities for small businesses.
Research opportunities abound for students, beginning at the undergraduate level through the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives, or COURI. The goal is to prepare students to compete effectively for admission to the best graduate and professional programs in the world and join a globally engaged 21st century workforce. Forty-three percent of graduating seniors reported participation in an on-campus research or scholarly/creative project with UTEP faculty.
Faculty researchers and students are actively engaged in research in key strategic areas including border health issues, energy and the environment, national defense and border security, the social and economic issues of the U.S.-Mexico border and Latin America, and educational methods for the 21st century. Recent projects in the health and biomedical sciences aim to combat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, create vaccines for HIV and Chagas disease, prevent obesity in children, reduce tobacco use and understand the neurochemistry of drug and alcohol addiction. In the areas of energy and the environment, UTEP researchers are working to make water desalination more affordable and efficient, test and certify alternative energy projects and document climate change in the Arctic. Other projects range from enhancing bilingual education to monitoring earthquakes; advancing 3D printing technology; improving the safety of human space flight; border security training, procedures and racial profiling; artificial intelligence and the testing of autonomous systems; and protecting cyber security.