Arkansas Economic Development Commission


AEDC’s Division of Science and Technology to receive $20 million NSF grant

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (August 3, 2015) – Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced that the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology will receive $20 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) over five years to expand research and workforce development training opportunities in 10 colleges and universities throughout Arkansas.

The funds will be used to support the ASSET project (Arkansas Advancing and Supporting Science, Engineering and Technology), a multi-institutional statewide program with research areas that impact education and workforce, cyberinfrastructure, and engineering research.

“This award will go a long way in strengthening STEM-based research and workforce in Arkansas,” Governor Hutchinson said. “All eyes are now on Arkansas because of the strides we are making in science and technology. We must continue to build on this momentum to ensure our current and future workforce has the skills they need to succeed.”

Colleges and universities to receive funding include:

  • Arkansas State University
  • Ouachita Baptist University
  • Philander Smith University
  • Southern Arkansas University
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • University of Arkansas at Monticello
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
  • University of Central Arkansas

Currently, ASSET’s efforts are targeting surface interactions or interfaces. Researchers are creating the Center for Advanced Surface Engineering (CASE) which will address problems identified by Arkansas industries as well as create new products for manufacturing, oil and gas, agriculture, forestry, aerospace and defense, food packaging, and healthcare industries.

The project also includes a cyberinfrastructure component that aligns with Governor Hutchinson’s computer science initiative for K-12 education by expanding the connectivity of high-performance computing clusters throughout the state into a single unified system.

The funding is part of the NSF’s Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 Award through the NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which promotes scientific progress nationwide by establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry. RII Track-1 awards support physical, human, and cyber infrastructure improvements in research areas selected by EPSCoR as having the “best potential” to improve research and development competitiveness.

Previous ASSET projects have produced three new companies as well as 11 filed patents and 11 federal SBIRs awards to six ASSET-associated companies totaling $2.6 million, with three additional pending awards that could add another $1.7 million.