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Engineering Technology lands National Science Foundation grant

By Kristina Kenney
University News Service
September 6, 2011

Texas State University-San Marcos Department of Engineering Technology was awarded $486,599 on Aug. 29 by the National Science Foundation. The grant took effect on Sept. 1 and will go toward helping fund an advanced materials research proposal for upgraded instrumentation over the next three years.

The Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program was set up by the NSF to help universities upgrade various technological equipment and instrumentation for areas of advanced research, and Texas State has had a very high success rate with the competitive grants recently, winning several large awards in the last few years.

“It’s a good example of how Texas State is increasing its research profile,” said Thomas Myers, director of Materials Science, Engineering and Commercialization, and associate dean of science at Texas State. “In order to do state-of-the-art research, you have to have the correct set of tools. By getting external funding, we have managed to pull in millions of dollars worth of equipment.”

The proposal’s principle investigator is In-Hyouk Song, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, and co-principle investigators include Texas State’s Byoung Hee You, Edwin Piner, Hsing-Huang Tseng, Maggie Yihong Chen, Nikoleta Theodoropoulou and Gary Beall.

The particular piece of equipment that this award will help fund is called an Inductively Coupled Plasma-Reactive Ion Etching System, an advanced materials processing system which will allow researchers to define structures with very precise dimensions through innovative dry etching abilities. Such processing systems are crucial to the construction of newly developed and developing technological devices that continue to get smaller in size.

Myers said that the new system will be placed in the College of Science’s newly renovated clean room and will be used by many researchers across several different departments including engineering technology, physics and chemistry.

“It allows us to do cutting-edge research and to train students in cutting-edge research that otherwise would not have happened,” said Myers.

This most recent award from the NSF is one of the largest given to Texas State through the MRI program, being just slightly less than one for a scanning electron microscope two years ago. Myers said both awards were well above average for the NSF, and the honor should attest to the quality of research being done at Texas State.

For more information, contact Thomas Myers at (512) 245-1839 or at tmyers@txstate.edu.