Engineering research expenditures highly ranked by NSF


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering ranks fourth in the country for total research expenditures, according to the most recent National Science Foundation rankings of Higher Education Research and Development research expenditures, released in January 2022. The rankings are based on fiscal year 2020, during which the College of Engineering had $153 million in research expenditures.

“The expenditures represent not only the University’s commitment to research, but also the investment of national agencies, industry partners and individual donors,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “These numbers indicate the overall strength of our research program, bolstered by the fortitude of our faculty, staff and students. They develop the ideas, pursue fiercely competitive funding awards and establish the pathways to innovation.”

In addition to the college, several engineering departments were highly ranked. The Department of Mechanical Engineering ranked second; the Department of Electrical Engineering ranked fourth; the aerospace engineering and the industrial and manufacturing engineering departments ranked sixth; and computer science ranked eighth.

The available funds for research expenditures are largely dependent on research awards, many of which are processed in prior years and earmarked for future use. A five-year, $2 million grant awarded in January of 2018, for example, will have impact on the research expenditures through December 2022. In fiscal year 2020, the College of Engineering received more than $116 million in research awards. For the same period in the year-to-year comparison, awards have increased 10% for fiscal year 2022.

Overall, the University ranked 22nd for research expenditures and took first among Pennsylvania’s public universities in industry sponsored research.

Penn State rose from 23rd place in 2019. In addition, the University ranks fourth nationally in the breadth and depth of its research enterprise, as measured by the number of top-10 rankings in key fields and subfields of science and engineering. Penn State had 12 top-10 rankings for 2020. Only Johns Hopkins University, the University of Michigan, and MIT had more, with 17, 14 and 13 respectively.

The rankings do not include Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, which together generate approximately $10 million in research expenditures.

In individual fields, Penn State ranked first nationally in materials science and second in materials engineering for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, the University ranked second in psychology; fourth in sociology; seventh in mathematics and statistics; and 10th in atmospheric science and meteorology.

“Once again these rankings reflect the excellence that defines Penn State’s research enterprise and sets it apart,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for Research. “The breadth and depth of our expertise is matched by the dedication and resilience of our world-class faculty. Our unique interdisciplinary approach enables us to creatively and effectively address the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Penn State’s full press release is available here.


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