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Iowa State University of Science and Technology, more commonly known as Iowa State University, Iowa State, or ISU, is a public land-grant and space-grant research university located in Ames, Iowa, United States.

Founded in 1858 and coeducational from its start, Iowa State became the nation’s first designated land-grant institution when the Iowa Legislature accepted the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act on September 11, 1862, making Iowa the first state in the nation to do so. Iowa State's academic offerings are administered today through eight colleges, including the graduate college, that offer over 100 bachelor's degree programs, 112 master's degree programs, and 83 at the Ph.D. level, plus a professional degree program in Veterinary Medicine.

ISU is classified as a Research University with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Iowa State University's athletic teams, the Cyclones, compete in Division I of the NCAA and are a founding member of the Big 12 Conference. The Cyclones field 16 varsity teams and have won numerous NCAA national championships.

In 1856, the Iowa General Assembly enacted legislation to establish the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. This institution (now Iowa State University) was officially established on March 22, 1858, by the General Assembly. Story County was chosen as the location on June 21, 1859, beating proposals from Johnson, Kossuth, Marshall and Polk counties. The original farm of 648 acres (2.62 km2) was purchased for a cost of $5,379.

Iowa was the first state in the nation to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act of 1862.Iowa subsequently designated Iowa State as the land-grant college on March 29, 1864. From the start, Iowa Agricultural College focused on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all and that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects. These ideals are integral to the land-grant university.

The institution was coeducational from the first preparatory class admitted in 1868. The formal admitting of students began the following year, and the first graduating class of 1872 consisted of 24 men and two women.

The Farm House, the first building on the Iowa State campus, was completed in 1861 before the campus was occupied by students or classrooms. It became the home of the superintendent of the Model Farm and in later years, the deans of Agriculture, including Seaman Knapp and "Tama Jim" Wilson. Iowa State's first president, Adonijah Welch, briefly stayed at the Farm House and penned his inaugural speech in a second floor bedroom.

The college's first farm tenants primed the land for agricultural experimentation. The Iowa Experiment Station was one of the university's prominent features. Practical courses of instruction were taught, including one designed to give a general training for the career of a farmer. Courses in mechanical, civil, electrical, and mining engineering were also part of the curriculum.

In 1870, President Welch and I. P. Robert, professor of agriculture, held three-day farmers' institutes at Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Washington, and Muscatine. These became the earliest institutes held off-campus by a land grant institution and were the forerunners of 20th century extension.

In 1872, the first courses were given in domestic economy (home economics, family and consumer sciences) and were taught by Mary B. Welch, the president's wife. Iowa State became the first land grant university in the nation to offer training in domestic economy for college credit.

In 1879, the "School" of Veterinary Science was organized, the first state veterinary college in the United States (although veterinary courses has been taught since the beginning of the College). This was originally a two-year course leading to a diploma. The veterinary course of study contained classes in zoology, botany, anatomy of domestic animals, veterinary obstetrics, and sanitary science.

William M. Beardshear was appointed President of Iowa State in 1891. During his tenure, Iowa Agricultural College truly came of age. Beardshear developed new agricultural programs and was instrumental in hiring premier faculty members such Anson Marston, Louis B. Spinney, J.B. Weems, Perry G. Holden, and Maria Roberts. He also expanded the university administration, and the following buildings were added to the campus: Morrill Hall (1891); the Campanile (1899); Old Botany (now Carrie Chapman Catt Hall) (1892); and Margaret Hall (1895) which continue to stand today. In his honor, Iowa State named its central administrative building (Central Building) after Beardshear in 1925. In 1898, reflecting the school's growth during his tenure, it was renamed Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, or Iowa State for short.

Today, Beardshear Hall holds the following offices: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Registrar, Provost, and student financial aid. Catt Hall is named after famed alumna Carrie Chapman Catt and is the home of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In 1912 Iowa State had its first Homecoming celebration. The idea was first proposed by Professor Samuel Beyer, the college’s “patron saint of athletics,” who suggested that Iowa State inaugurate a celebration for alumni during the annual football game against rival University of Iowa. Iowa State’s new president, Raymond A. Pearson, liked the idea and issued a special invitation to alumni two weeks prior to the event: “We need you, we must have you. Come and see what a school you have made in Iowa State College. Find a way.” In October 2012 Iowa State marked its 100th Homecoming with a "CYtennial" Celebration.

Iowa State celebrated its first VEISHEA on May 11–13, 1922. Wallace McKee (class of 1922) served as the first chairman of the Central Committee and Frank D. Paine (professor of electrical engineering) chose the name, based on the first letters of Iowa State's colleges: Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, and Agriculture. VEISHEA has grown to become the largest student-run festival in the nation.

The Statistical Laboratory was established in 1933, with George W. Snedecor, professor of mathematics, as the first director. It was and is the first research and consulting institute of its kind in the country.

While attempting to develop a faster method of computation, mathematics and physics professor John Vincent Atanasoff conceptualized the basic tenets of what would become the world’s first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), during a drive to Illinois in 1937. These included the use of a binary system of arithmetic, the separation of computer and memory functions, and regenerative drum memory, among others. The 1939 prototype was constructed with graduate student Clifford Berry in the basement of the Physics Building.

During World War II, Iowa State was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

On July 4, 1959, the college was officially renamed Iowa State University of Science and Technology. However, the short-form name "Iowa State University" is used even in official documents such as diplomas.

Official names given the university’s divisions were the College of Agriculture, College of Engineering, College of Home Economics, College of Sciences and Humanities, and College of Veterinary Medicine.

Iowa State's eight colleges today offer more than 100 undergraduate majors and 200 fields of study leading to graduate and professional degrees. The academic program at ISU includes a liberal arts education and some of the world's leading research in the biological and physical sciences.

Breakthroughs at Iowa State changing the world are in the areas of human, social, economic, and environmental sustainability[citation needed]; new materials and processes for biomedical as well as industrial applications; nutrition, health, and wellness for humans and animals; transportation and infrastructure; food safety and security; plant and animal sciences; information and decision sciences; and renewable energies. The focus on technology has led directly to many research patents and inventions including the first binary computer (the ABC), Maytag blue cheese, the round hay baler, and many more.

Located on a 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) campus, the university has grown considerably from its roots as an agricultural college and model farm and is recognized internationally today for its comprehensive research programs. It continues to grow and set a new record for enrollment in the fall of 2015 with 36,001 students.

Birthplace of first electronic digital computer

Iowa State is the birthplace of the first electronic digital computer, starting the world’s computer technology revolution. Invented by mathematics and physics professor John Atanasoff and engineering graduate student Clifford Berry during 1937-42, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC, pioneered important elements of modern computing, including binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, parallel processing, electronic switching elements, and separation of memory and computer functions.

On October 19, 1973, U.S. Federal Judge Earl R. Larson signed his decision following a lengthy court trial which declared the ENIAC patent of Mauchly and Eckert invalid and named Atanasoff the inventor of the electronic digital computer—the Atanasoff-Berry Computer or the ABC.

An ABC Team consisting of Ames Laboratory and Iowa State engineers, technicians, researchers and students unveiled a working replica of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in 1997 which can be seen on display on campus in the Durham Computation Center.

Birth of cooperative extension

The Extension Service traces its roots to farmers’ institutes developed at Iowa State in the late 19th century. Committed to community, Iowa State pioneered the outreach mission of being a land-grant college through creation of the first Extension Service in 1902. In 1906, the Iowa Legislature enacted the Agricultural Extension Act making funds available for demonstration projects. It is believed this was the first specific legislation establishing state extension work, for which Iowa State assumed responsibility. The national extension program was created in 1914 based heavily on the Iowa State model.

Manhattan Project

ISU is the only university nationwide that has a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory physically located on its campus. Iowa State played a critical role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, a research and development program begun in 1942 under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop the atomic bomb.

The process to produce large quantities of high-purity uranium metal became known as the Ames process. One-third of the uranium metal used in the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction was produced at Iowa State under the direction of Frank Spedding and Harley Wilhelm. The Ames project received the Army-Navy ‘E’ Award for Excellence in Production on October 12, 1945, signifying two-and-one-half years of excellence in industrial production of metallic uranium as a vital war material. Iowa State is unique among educational institutions to have received this award for outstanding service, an honor normally given to industry.

Today, the Ames Laboratory focuses on more peaceful applications of materials research, usually related to increasing energy efficiency. It has broadened the scope of its research into various areas of national concern, including energy resources, high-speed computer design, environmental cleanup and restoration, and the synthesis and study of new materials.

Ames Laboratory

Iowa State is the only university nationwide that has a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory physically located on its campus. Operated by ISU, the Ames Laboratory is one of ten national DOE Office of Science research laboratories.

ISU research for the government provided Ames Laboratory its start in the 1940s with the development of a highly efficient process for producing high-purity uranium for atomic energy. Today, Ames Laboratory continues its leading status in current materials research and focuses diverse fundamental and applied research strengths upon issues of national concern, cultivates research talent, and develops and transfers technologies to improve industrial competitiveness and enhance U.S. economic security. Ames Laboratory employs more than 430 full- and part-time employees, including more than 250 scientists and engineers. Students make up more than 20 percent of the paid workforce.

The Ames Laboratory is the U.S. home to 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Dan Shechtman and is intensely engaged with the international scientific community, including hosting a large number of international visitors each year.