The University of Texas at Austin

Faculty Innovation Center

The Faculty Innovation Center’s media expertise can enhance your research proposal by providing professional quality 3D illustration, websites,  interactive media, and even video production. The FIC can also help you address NSF’s broader impact criteria by delivering  media-centered educational outreach. In the last two years FIC research related projects have aided in bringing more than $6 million in awards and grants.

Click here to visit the FIC site

Here are some examples of high visibility projects that the FIC is currently involved with. These projects have resulted in significant research funding.

Texas Interactive Power Simulator (TIPS)

In 2008 Michael Webber approached the FIC to create what was to become the Texas Interactive Power Simulator (TIPS), an online calculator that explores the economic and environmental trade-offs in electricity generation fuel sources. Originally conceived as an engineering educational tool, TIPS continues to find new applications and audiences.


FIC ROLE: The FIC continues to use its programming and multimedia expertise to develop the TIPS system with version 3 to be released later this summer.

IMPACT: TIPS version 1 has been presented to the Texas Legislature, which has expressed interest in incorporating it as a policy making tool. The four-year $2.3 million TexELE grant proposal expands upon TIPS  in order to make it more viable to an even more expanded audience including Texas policy makers, regulators, government agency representatives, public officials, the citizens of Texas, and K-12. In addition, AT&T has sponsored additional tool development with a $25,000 gift based significantly on the premise of the FIC’s engagement. Dr. Webber is also in discussions with the State Energy Conservation Office for a $60,000 project to make an online tool for solar power.

Check out the Texas Interactive Power Simulators: TIPS v1 and TIPS v2


NSF/DOE Award for Center for Electrochemistry: Broader Impact

Charles “Buddie” Mullins and Alan Bard received roughly $2.5 million in grants from NSF and DOE to research converting water into clean hydrogen fuel using sunlight. A requirement of these grants is to provide community education and outreach, for which Dr. Mullins turned to the FIC.

Longhorn Energy Funhouse: Bio-gasFIC ROLE: The FIC video and animation teams employed creative storytelling to produce a two minute animated video pilot on alternative energy sources for the grant applications.  

IMPACT: The pilot was key in securing a $1.4 million research grant from the National Science Foundation as well as a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.  The grant includes $30,000 to the FIC to continue work on nine educational videos over the course of three years with the goal of securing a future $25 million research grant.

View the Longhorn Energy Funhouse: Biogas for Home Heating


CI-Team – Construction Environment Learning System

Dept. of Civil Architecture and Environmental Engineering faculty member Dr. William O’Brien is currently pursuing research on overcoming the challenges of teaching large-scale construction planning, particularly teaching the spatial reasoning involved in managing job sites, materials flows, and work areas. Dr. O’Brien sought the FIC’s assistance in securing NSF funding.

CI-TeamFIC ROLE: FIC’s media team authored an interactive tablet-based application that reads sensor motes. The system, in essence, creates a virtual job site.  The customizable interface can be used for a variety of workflows, allowing instructors to expand the classroom to encompass a large, realistic simulation of the construction site.

IMPACT: The FIC assisted in authoring the initial proposal that secured $250,000 that, in part, funded the development the application. Recently Dr. O’Brien has been awarded an additional $1 million NSF development grant to expand work on this project. This project won the 2008 IITAP Gold Award.

Watch the video: Expanding the Classroom: Mobile Technologies for Construction Education


Copolymerization Website and Simulation

Department of Chemical Engineering’s Chris Ellison submitted this interactive Copolymer Simulation as part of a NSF CAREER Award proposal.

copolymerization simFIC ROLE: Dr. Ellison asked the FIC to create powerful and engaging support material for a grant proposal for his Laboratory for Nanostructured Polymeric Materials (LNPM).  The FIC created a website including a interactive simulation demonstration module.

IMPACT: Dr. Ellison’s proposal received a very positive assessment from the review committee, whom were especially impressed by the simulation. While not funded in 2009, Dr. Ellison plans to resubmit the proposal in July 2010. Dr. Ellison also plans on using a completed version of the simulation in his Fall 2010 course.

Visit the Copolymerization Simulation Website


Engineering in the Media

The FIC is also available to provide high quality graphics for use in engineering related journals and periodicals. Below are a few examples that have appeared on the web and in print.

FemtoLAB & Publication Graphics
Ben-Yakar Research Group | |

FemtoLAB & Publication Graphics

Press release graphics created by the FIC for Adela Ben-Yakar’s nerve regeneration and laser surgery research appear in trade journals.


Two-Dimensional Phonon Transport in Supported Graphene
Boston College | | | | CSE Article

Two-Dimensional Phonon Transport in Supported Graphene

Graphics created by Erik Zumalt for article published in journal Science co-authored by Li Shi.  These images have appeared on several news sites as the story has disseminated throughout the web.


CO Dissociation Induced by Adsorbed Oxygen and Water on Ir(111)

chemmCommArtwork FIC created for journal article co-authored by Buddie Mullins makes Front Page of ChemConn.






Sub-cellular Resolution Delivery of a Cytokine via Precisely Manipulated Nanowires.
Nature: Nanotechnology

Nature: Nanotechnology Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty member Donglie Fan approached the FIC to create a graphic for an issue of Nature: Nanotechnology.