About Us

Historical ARL:UT, the building in the late 1960s


Applied Research Laboratories, the University of Texas at Austin (ARL:UT), is a Department of Defense University-Affiliated Research Center (UARC). Since 1945, ARL:UT has been engaged in sponsored research dedicated to improving our national security through applications of acoustics, electromagnetics, and information sciences. As the largest and one of the oldest research units of the university and a member of the Vice President for Research portfolio, ARL:UT is highly engaged in the three traditional roles of a major university - research, education, and public service.

ARL:UT's research spans the spectrum from basic inquiries into the nature of signal and noise fields in acoustics and electromagnetics, to the development of prototype sonar systems for use by the US Navy, to cutting edge independent research such as 3-D cloaking and glaciology.
ARL:UT encourages student involvement in its research programs through both employment opportunities and a variety of educational programs. Our students work alongside scientists and engineers and are significant contributors to our projects. The majority of students are from the Natural Sciences and Engineering disciplines. The experience students gain through their participation in an applied research program is a substantial enhancement to their formal education; it also generally enhances their employability when they graduate. ARL:UT staff members are also engaged in the educational process through teaching of courses that are relevant to ARL:UT's research programs including acoustics, electromagnetics, and signal processing. ARL:UT researchers frequently bring to their teaching a valuable current perspective based on their research activities.
ARL:UT has been designated a Navy University-Affiliated Research Center (UARC) by the Department of Defense (DoD). The UARC designation is reserved for university laboratories maintaining essential and unique core competencies in technology areas that are important for national defense. As a non-profit organization, ARL:UT has been able to focus attention and expertise on projects that have resulted in substantial cost savings to DoD programs. This has occurred through application of modern technology to replace older systems that had high maintenance costs and careful "honest broker" reviews of industry's bids on defense systems. ARL:UT has assumed a responsibility for maintaining expertise in applications of acoustics, electromagnetics, and information sciences. In fulfilling that responsibility, ARL:UT strives to maintain research programs that are highly relevant to current defense needs and preserves and nurtures a research staff with a very high level of expertise in our core competency areas.
As a UARC, ARL:UT has a special contractual relationship with the U. S. Department of Defense (DoD). The UARC relationship was created to enable DoD to foster and utilize certain core competencies at university labs like ARL:UT. To foster the relationship, UARCs are allowed to contract with DoD on a sole source basis under a specific exemption in the Competition in Contracting Act. Part of DoD's objective in UARC contracting is to enable technical experts to advise the government on technology issues that fall within their competency areas. Often this involves advising them on acquisition strategies and evaluating industry proposals. Clearly, to do that effectively, ARL:UT must remain totally free of any real or perceived conflict of interest. Consequently, the UARC charter under which ARL:UT operates, established by DDR&E, precludes ARL:UT's teaming with industry or accepting industry subcontracts for work that lies within ARL:UT's core competency areas. The charter does allow for exceptions that are deemed to be in the government's best interests and approved by ARL:UT's NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) oversight office. It should be emphasized that this restriction is primarily focused on ARL:UT's business relationships with industry, and does not preclude collaboration and technology transfer that falls within the scope of our sponsored projects, and is directed by the government sponsor funding our effort. Funding for these activities is provided by our government sponsor, rather than as a subcontract from industry.