(Ames) – For the fourth time in the past six years, Iowa State University has received an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Award.

Presented annually by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the award recognizes schools across the country for their work on economic development in their state or region and the nation. The state of Iowa has been eligible for the award since 2017, and this year took first place in the Innovation category — one of three awards. David Spalding is Vice President for Economic Development and Industry for the State of Iowa. Spalding recently said on KMA’s The Morning Show that the school received the award based on three separate case studies – the first of which concerned the university’s work in finding more affordable and permanent housing for rural communities.

“So we got a grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority and bought a big 3D printer,” Spalding said. “We worked with our civil engineers to develop materials that will be used for printing, which essentially serve as the ‘ink’ in printing – but it’s really printing material on site.”

The IEDA grant totaled $1.4 million. According to Spalding, the printer is currently at Iowa Central Community College for indoor testing and training of community college students. It will be relocated to Hamburg in spring and summer for the first outdoor tests.

Additionally, the school was recognized for its work with CyTown, a new $200 million multipurpose district. Spalding says CyTown’s goal is to develop what is currently a parking lot to connect the campus, Iowa State Center and ISU Research Park.

“This development is intended to include a medical clinic, some businesses and some that we call the ‘CyTown Suites,'” Spalding explained. “The ultimate goal is to create a sort of entertainment district to improve the experience of those who visit us for football, basketball, volleyball or ektara.”

He adds that the district is also a creative way to provide additional support for the performing arts, providing funding for the maintenance and modernization of the CY Stephens Auditorium, the Fischer Theater and the Scheman Building. Subject to final approval by the Board of Regents, work on the first phase of the project will begin in January 2023.

Finally, the school was also chosen for its public-private partnerships in agricultural research. According to Spalding, one of the highlights is the collaboration between Iowa State’s Digital Ag research team and John Deere.

“The company has one of its five global technology centers here in Iowa at the research park, but also a facility that it uses to conduct research on advanced spray technology,” he said. “This technology, using sensors developed by the faculty here in the state of Iowa, is able to deliver precise amounts of just the right chemical when spraying a field.”

The Digital Ag team is also working with the ISU Research Park to develop a new facility to meet the needs of the cultivation program, which is working to find more efficient cultivation methods. Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen accepted the APLU award on November 6 at the group’s annual conference. You can listen to the full interview with David Spalding below:

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