History of the ARI

The Illinois Applied Research Institute is a joint initiative of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Engineering and Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research. The ARI provides the University with a formalized conduit for partnerships with outside organizations such as companies and the mission-driven agencies with the purpose of collaborating on open, proprietary, or classified projects.

Roots of the ARI lie in the Illinois Engineering Experiment Station, which was established by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees in 1903 to “investigate problems of special importance to professional engineers and to the manufacturing, railway, mining and other industrial interests of the State and of the country.” The Station, which was the first entity of its type for a major public university, laid a foundation of comprehensive research infrastructure that helped make the state of Illinois and the nation as a whole an economic and scientific powerhouse. The spirit of contributing to America’s future and the economy of our state has been reborn at the University of Illinois through the establishment of the ARI. Delivering applied R&D that fundamentally improves our lives, enhances our security, and contributes to the economic growth of our nation and state is what drives us at ARI - just as it did for the researchers at the Illinois Engineering Experiment Station more than 100 years ago.

A Vehicle for Collaboration

The Applied Research Institute’s mission is to provide rapid, cost-effective solutions to problems of mutual interest across sectors and agencies of government, with a sharp focus on the commercial development of technologies that are validated before they leave the laboratory. From the beginning, our vision has been to create a new model for a university-based laboratory, where industry and federal clients connect with researchers in an integrated environment to understand their needs and rapidly bring solutions to the market.

We have brought together expertise from a variety of engineering, science, and business disciplines, but more importantly, we have looked at traditional business lines and government agencies to address some of the most important technology issues we face.

With this perspective as a backdrop, ARI has developed five primary thrust areas:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Engineering Design and Simulation
  • Indoor Climate Research and Training
  • Information Processing and Systems
  • Visual Analytics for Precision Medicine

We believe these thrusts strongly leverage the core capabilities of the University of Illinois and the State of Illinois and will make impacts on some of the most critical issues facing our country.

What We Do

  • Connect research and researchers across campus
  • Partner and collaborate with industry and federal clients to understand their needs and shape into impact opportunities for the University
  • Bridge the research & development gap to bring research applications to the market faster

ARI intends to be a unique model. Instead of other university-based applied research laboratories that largely exist outside of their universities’ academic mission, ARI is integrating the University of Illinois’ faculty and students into our research. Our researchers collaborate with University of Illinois students and faculty, and our clients, on mission-driven research into finding solutions to national problems of mutual interest.

Our model is a win-win for our clients, our faculty and students, and the State of Illinois. Our clients are provided a research partner that can service their R&D needs while, at the same time, reduce risk. Our faculty and students participate in research that targets real-world, national problems. And for the State of Illinois and the entire Midwest region, the Applied Research Institute provides an engine where technologies are being designed, developed, and eventually commercialized here at home.