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.
Beginning July 1, 2014, IPRT will no longer exist, and the centers and groups under the institute's umbrella will report to new entities around Iowa State's campus.