COLORADO SPRINGS - For the seventh year, the U.S. Air Force Academy is the number one undergraduate-only school for research and development expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation.
The foundation ranks colleges and universities based on the amount of money spent on research each year. Since 2008, USAFA has been the highest-ranked school in terms of undergraduate-only education, with more than $56 million spent on research at the institution in FY12.
Overall, the Academy ranked 193 on the list of 655 colleges and universities. Johns Hopkins University was number one with more than $2.1 billion in research expenditures.
In Colorado, the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical campus ranked number 48 on the list, with $433 million. The University of Colorado at Boulder ranked 55th with $392 million. Colorado State University was only slightly behind them (ranked 60) with $375 million, while the Colorado School of Mines ranked 188, with $58.8 million.
The NSF ranked USAFA with $56 million in research funding. The Academy research program also receives additional in-kind funding, which places the USAFA research program funding at a total value of $64 million for 2012.
USAFA research centers serve to educate cadets while maintaining a commitment to education and technology transfer. As a federal lab, the 21 research centers and institutes cover areas such as aircraft sustainment, space situational awareness, cyberspace research, and alternative energy production and protection. The goal is not only to educate and inspire cadets, but move research to the private sector, create jobs and improve lives.
For example, the Academy’s physics researchers are looking into creating black silicon for solar panels, which increases the absorption rate of the sun’s rays. Biology researchers are exploring microbial fuel cells that could power handheld devices in the future; and researchers in the Space Physics and Atmospheric Research Center just put a device that measures plasma in the ionosphere into space last week. The plasma in the ionosphere sometimes interferes with Global Positioning Systems, so being able to predict its levels is important to commerce and to the military.
The United States Military Academy was 309th on the list with $12.2 million and the U.S. Naval Academy ranked 330 with $9.6 million.