Institutions across the Palmetto State have been awarded $20 million in National Science Foundation funds for new research, and USC will be on the receiving end of approximately $5 million of that grant.
USC is one of three research-based institutions in South Carolina that will spearhead the project. Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina will also help lead the charge. Seven other South Carolina schools, including South Carolina State University and the College of Charleston, are also involved.
Prakash Nagarkatti, vice president for research, noted that the research funded by the grant will help increase and expand business opportunities in the Palmetto State.
"A lot of industries are moving to the state of South Carolina, and particularly the automobile industry as well as the aeronautical industries and all that," he said, "so we want to make sure that they come here to a state where there's advanced research going on."
University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides echoed a similar sentiment in a statement.
“I am proud that all of the Palmetto State’s research universities are working together along with other institutions across the state to have such a positive impact on South Carolina’s research capacity and industrial prosperity for years to come,” he wrote.
This grant money will be targeted towards the development of "new materials." This includes everything from metals for safer, more energy efficient cars to a 3D printed pancreas that could cure diabetes and improved artificial joints.
South Carolina was one of five states to receive an NSF grant.
State officials including Rep. James Clyburn and South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt praised the statewide benefits of the grant.
“I am proud to support research and development as important building blocks for our future,” Clyburn said in a statement. “This is a big deal for the University of South Carolina and an investment that will create good paying jobs utilizing USC’s unique capabilities.
Nagarkatti also explained that in addition to the partnership between academic institutions within the state, researchers will reach out to businesses such as IBM and Boeing to augment the grant.
Students will also have a chance to reap the rewards of the grant in the classroom. Some of the funds will be directed towards new engineering, physics, chemistry and math classes available to undergraduates and graduate students.
"There is actual collaboration and participation by the students with the faculty to develop and expand that education to students across the state of South Carolina," Nagarkatti said.
The award is currently slated to fund research for five years, but could be extended if the research proves fruitful.