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UMass Lowell Pioneering Smart Fabric Research

interesting looking smart fabric

09/21/2017
Boston Herald

Scott Latham, vice provost of Innovation and Workforce Development at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, joined Boston Herald radio’s “Morning Meeting” program yesterday to talk about recent developments at the school. Listen to the entire show.

Q: So talk to us a little bit about UMass Lowell. There’s been a lot of growth going on.

A: I think UMass Lowell has really exploded over the last 10 years ... Over the past 10 years we’ve gone from about 10,000 students to over 18,000 students and have become one of the largest schools in New England.

Q: UMass Lowell really seems to have a lot going for it in terms of people who have served our country and now want to join the workforce.

A: If you look at our overall veteran population, we have about 1,200 veterans who are either active or recently honorably discharged who are either on campus or online. I think the veterans are attracted to UMass Lowell for that learning dynamic. They come with a unique set of life experiences; they don’t want to sit and read a textbook or be lectured at for 75 minutes. They want to bring what they’ve learned out in the field and they want a faculty member that will engage them.

Q: What kind of research are your UMass Lowell scholars doing?

A: We’re part of a grant won under the leadership of Gov. Charlie Baker to basically do the next generation of textiles. So we’re part of a grant with MIT that will sponsor research here on campus that will look at flexible electronics, intelligent fabrics — the example that is used a lot is if you’re wearing some type of fabric that can sense that you’re dehydrated or that you’re overheating and will literally change its disposition in contact with the human body — so the fabrics will open up or close down if there’s moisture embedded in those fabrics. It will release the moisture to decrease the body temperature ... our vice chancellor for research and innovation Julie Chen has been working with the governor’s office, with her colleagues at MIT, at Lincoln Laboratory to build this out. So we’re going to have a whole floor here dedicated to these smart fabrics. And I would tell you, although it sounds like “Star Trek,” it’s not pie in the sky. These are things that our kids and grandkids will just find as part of their everyday existence ... And then the other thing is people have been talking about where Amazon’s new headquarters is going to land ... you look at MIT, Harvard, UMass Lowell, BU, that is why GE came here. I think Amazon comes here for that same reason.