The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) program has received $9.3 million from the O'Donnell Foundation. The foundation has donated more than $135 million to the university over the past 30 years.
The money will go towards student fellowships, faculty teaching and recruiting for the program, which combines the study of math, engineering and science disciplines to tackle real world problems, specifically areas like applied mathematics, software engineering and computer visualization.
According to the program's director, Dr. John Tinsley Oden, modern research requires an interdisciplinary program, which means students can no longer study math, science, or engineering in silos.
"If a team of students wants to study drug delivery for cancer, they have to know biology, they have to know computer science, they have to know mathematics and not just peripheral knowledge. They need to dig deep enough into them," Oden says.
In the past, students in the ICES program have researched everything from how to create networks to connect genes and diseases like social networks, to research to design materials for low-cost energy applications.
In a school of around 50,000 students, the program is small. About 75 students enroll in the ICES graduate program per year. But Oden says the gift allows the program to add 12 $50,000-per-year student fellowships. Last year, the program accepted it's highest graduate enrollment, and Oden says increased interest means the university departments that participate in the program can hire more faculty members.