Although officially formed in 1987, IPRT’s roots go back much further. One of its precursors was the Institute for Atomic Research, was founded in 1947. It provided Iowa State University with a way to support the Ames Laboratory while enhancing the university’s mission. Moreover, several of IPRT’s centers, including the Microelectronics Research Center, Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, and Materials Preparation Center, were formed in the 1980s, before IPRT came into existence.
In 1987, Robert Hansen, director of the Ames Laboratory and the Energy and Mineral Resources Research Institute, worked with U.S. Rep. Neal Smith to secure funding for IPRT. “What we wanted to do was to take basic science and move it so it is useful to the community,” Hansen said. Initial centers include Ames Laboratory, Center for Coal and the Environment, Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, Microelectronics Research Center, Rare-earth Information Center and the Materials Preparation Center. Michael Crow served as director starting in 1988.
IPRT’s committment to education was shown in 1990, when it helped found the Science Bound program.
From 1997 to 2007, Tom Barton, an Iowa State chemistry professor, served as director of both IPRT and the Ames Laboratory. During this time, IPRT added the Midwest Forensics Resource Center, the Center for Catalysis and the Center for Building Energy Research to its roster of research centers. Barton also consolidated various programs into IPRT Company Assistance to better serve Iowa companies.
In July 2007, George Kraus, an Iowa State chemistry professor, was named IPRT director. He began the Information Assurance Center in 2010.
In October 2012, Leonard Bond became IPRT's interim director. Bond is also a professor in Iowa State's Department of Aerospace Engineering, and the director of the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation.
As of July 1, 2014, Iowa State University (ISU) has restructured the Institute for Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) and the centers and programs the institute was responsible for. The realignment is part of the university’s ongoing effort to improve administrative efficiency and streamline research and economic development units.
Program management of IPRT Company Assistance is now under the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), a joint program of the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations and the College of Engineering. This change will further promote the services provided by IPRT Company Assistance throughout Iowa and attract more company and industry partnerships with ISU. The IPRT Company Assistance laboratories remain at their current locations, including the Materials and Nondestructive Evaluation technical support programs. The Research Cost-Sharing Program offered through IPRT Company Assistance will also continue under CIRAS.
Other IPRT centers and programs are now supported by ISU administrative units that more closely align with each center or program.
Three engineering-focused centers are now managed by the College of Engineering: the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, the Microelectronics Research Center and the Information Assurance Center.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory on the ISU campus now provides program management for the Materials Preparation Center.
The Office of the Vice President for Research, which supports interdisciplinary centers and institutes, now oversees the Virtual Reality Applications Center and the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies (which has been incorporated into the Bioeconomy Institute).
Program management for the Center for Catalysis and the Center for Building Energy Research has shifted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Design, respectively.
The Science Bound program is now supported by the School of Education in the College of Human Sciences. Investments have been made to expand the program’s reach, connect students with researchers and labs and foster more integration with Iowa State’s other STEM-related colleges and outreach.
Central administrative services that had been offered to IPRT centers and programs by IPRT administrative staff are the responsibility of the administrative units that now serve as the homes for these centers and programs.