UNT receives $1 million to lead network of regional organizations selected for initial NSF Engines Development Award

UNT receives $1 million to lead network of regional organizations selected for initial NSF Engines Development Award

UNT Diving Eagle
May 11, 2023

The University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Arlington, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Dallas College along with a network of 25 other participating organizations in North Central Texas and Southeastern Oklahoma, have been awarded $1 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program.

The UNT-led team, called the Texoma Innovation Engine (TIE), is among the more than 40 unique teams from across the nation selected to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal and technological opportunities for their regions.

Faculty in UNT’s G. Brint Ryan College of Business and College of Engineering, as well as representatives from other area organizations, will work together to advance the logistics industry as an economic driver in the Texoma Region by supporting use-inspired research, logistics innovation and expediting laboratory-to-market technology transfer.

“As the largest inland port and one of the most significant bottlenecks in our nation’s freight system, the Texoma Region needs transformative change in logistics innovation to ensure long-term resiliency and agility for the global supply chains connecting to companies in the region,” says Terry Pohlen, director of UNT’s Jim McNatt Institute for Logistics Research, co-director of UNT’s Center for Integrated Intelligent Mobility Systems and principal investigator for the NSF Engines Development Award.

The joint project is expected to move the region’s workforce and mobility systems forward.

“This large regional effort provides a unique opportunity to advance and leverage the latest scientific and technological innovations in autonomous vehicles, electrification, artificial intelligence and cyber to transform the logistics industry with a nationwide impact and establish a strong basis for preparing a highly skilled and diverse workforce for long-term sustainability of this transformation,” says Andrey Voevodin co-director of UNT’s Center for Integrated Intelligent Mobility Systems and co-principal investigator for the NSF Engines Development Award.

Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.

“These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan says. “These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF’s vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation.”

The Texoma Innovation Engine will solicit use-inspired projects from the logistics community and, through research hubs located in disadvantaged areas, translate emerging technologies into innovative systems, practice and workforce development programs. These hubs will conceptualize new products and services, incubate startups and facilitate commercialization. 

The Texoma engine is a collaborative network of universities, colleges, schools, public agencies, industries, and economic and workforce development agencies. “This success is a prime example of regional cooperation leading to national opportunities,” says Victor Fishman, executive director of the Texas Research Alliance.

Beyond the education institutions, other participating organizations on the team’s governance board include:

•          Texas Research Alliance

•          Dallas Regional Chamber

•          DFW International Airport

•          Hillwood Properties

•          Texas Transportation Association (TXTA)

•          Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

•          Southern Dallas County Inland Port Transportation Management Association

•          Southern Oklahoma Development Association (SODA)