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Spirit of discovery

10:45 AM  Oct 3rd, 2017
by Eric F. Spina

If you’re up for a stroll into the future, walk into any laboratory on campus.

The spirit of discovery is palpable — and builds on a rich history of creativity and innovation at the University of Dayton.

On my first day as president last summer, I toured engineering labs, talking with students and faculty about advanced materials and vision-guided robots. Their passion moved me. Their work amazed me, and it continued to do so all year, whether in a tour of the materials division in the University of Dayton Research Institute or listening this summer to the Berry Summer Thesis Institute students present their research.

In the pages of this issue, you’ll find stories of discovery that changed humanity for the better — from rare earth permanent magnets in electronic devices to space food, from better black boxes to Claritin, an allergy medication. Our alumni, researchers, faculty and students have a track record of conducting research for the common good.

We’re unlike other major research universities. The vast majority are focused almost exclusively on discovery-driven research, hoping to achieve impact in future years. Here, we encourage the full spectrum of scholarly approaches, from fundamental to highly applied, because we want to advance the state of the art and quickly solve today’s problems.

It’s precisely this mix of pragmatic and inspired innovation that has elevated our national research stature. Pop quiz time:

Who now ranks ninth in the country for sponsored research at private universities without
medical schools?

Who ranks second nationally for federally sponsored materials research and development?

And for bonus points: Who tops all Catholic universities and all in Ohio for sponsored engineering R&D?

If you guessed your alma mater, you’re right.

Our annual sponsored research volume hit another new record this fiscal year, growing 10 percent to $135 million.

But beyond the numbers and the rankings, our research portfolio speaks volumes. We’re developing real solutions that have a real impact on society. That’s why students are cultivating an urban farm in East Dayton and designing a high school 8,000 miles away in Malawi.

Our research keeps our faculty at the leading edge of change and informs classroom teaching and learning. It impacts regional and national economic development. It allows us to provide valuable experiential learning opportunities to undergraduates and superior training to graduate students.

The stories in this issue and on “Momentum,” a new interactive website, speak to our ingenuity, curiosity and innovation.

I invite you to take a glimpse at udayton.edu/momentum — and step into the future.

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