One of eleven multidisciplinary research centers within the Institute of Physical Research and Technology (IPRT) at Iowa State University, the Microelectronics Research Center is located at the Applied Sciences Complex (ASC), approximately 1.5 miles northwest of the main campus.

The MRC was created in 1982 with State of Iowa economic development grants and small contracts from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). Other contracts were soon obtained with Rockwell International, E.F. Johnson and Honeywell. In 1984 the MRC received $3 million, which went into creating the molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) lab and the thin film resonator program. Funding has also been received from AT&T, the Iowa Department of Economic Development, GCA and ISU.

ISU hired the MRC's first formal director in 1984. Initial staff consisted of the director and two other principal investigators. Since then, the number of multidisciplinary professional and scientific (P&S) staff, scientists and engineers has grown to over 20. Many current P&S staff members have Ph.D.s and meet ISU's requirements to serve as principal investigators on proposals. Faculty located at the MRC typically have part of their academic-year salaries covered by the MRC budget while nonfaculty MRC scientists and engineers are employed under provisions of ISU.

The MRC's initial research efforts focused on thin film resonators with piezoelectric materials. In 1993, the MRC underwent a major revitalization effort in coordination with IPRT and the Provost. Longer-range research areas such as novel microstructures and quantum phenomena were implemented upon the hiring of an IBM physicist. Much of his equipment was installed in the MRC, with further donations made by IBM and Amoco.

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