March 4, 2014
Writer: Austin Cary
BYU-Idaho's growing partnership with the Southeast Idaho Research Institute (SIRI) is becoming a valuable asset to the education of students and to the Rexburg economy. SIRI is the brainchild of BYU-Idaho instructors Dan Moore and Glenn Embree. Launched in 2010, the program was originally designed to act like a grant office but it quickly became apparent the future limitations that model would bring.
"The first year SIRI was created, we secured about $50,000 in grants and hired about 12 students to conduct research," said Moore, who also serves as a member of SIRI's Board of Directors. "But we realized we wouldn't reach many students because there weren't many teachers on campus applying for grants. Now SIRI does some grants, but mostly we interact with companies from the outside world. They bring the project and funding and we bring the faculty-mentored student team to accomplish that project."
Once SIRI expanded its horizon to the "outside world" it experienced a 500 percent increase in total dollar amount in projects over the next two years. As a result it exploded with advantageous educational opportunities and employment for students. In 2013, clients poured about $300,000 into SIRI to employ around 85 students.
"We are just growing like crazy," said Moore. "We are projecting to be able to bring in about $1 million in projects and employ 200 students in 2014. As we look even further down the road to the next three to five years, we anticipate developing opportunities for about 2,000 students."
Students employed by SIRI start at $10 an hour, and, with experience, can move into manager positions ranging from $12 to $15 an hour. Moore says the partnership has proven to be a blessing for both BYU-Idaho and for Rexburg.
"The magic of SIRI is that it provides benefits to the community in a way that educates students, allowing them to practice their craft and get paid for it," said Moore. "The real service to Rexburg is the local economy is being boosted. Dollars that used to be spent in other places are now being spent in Rexburg."