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Big money continues to roll in for the engineering of the small.
This time, the nanomanufacturing team has secured $2 million in the federal budget due to strong advocacy from U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, both of whom play key roles in the defense appropriations process on Capitol Hill, with support from Sen. John Kerry. President Bush signed the funding bill in early October.
The funds will support research on the nanomanufacturing of multi-functional sensors and equipment, which could be used in the new advanced manufacturing building for which the state has provided $35 million in construction money. The research will be conducted by a number of faculty from the Mechanical and Plastics Engineering, Chemistry and Biology departments.
“The Nanomanufacturing Center is crucial to the technological and economic development of Lowell and the Merrimack Valley,” said Meehan, in announcing Congressional approval of the funds. “The Center will strengthen the academic-commercial relationships that UMass Lowell is fostering and will create quality jobs throughout the region.”
“UMass Lowell is known for its ability to turn highly technical science into products that can be manufactured and, in this case, used in the battlefield,” says Chancellor David J. MacKenzie. “Our nation’s defense will be well-served by the nanomanufacturing team on this campus. I am pleased to see that the Congress agrees and I am very grateful for the support of our delegation in Washington.”
Louise Griffin, vice chancellor for Administration and Finance, says, “The nanomanufacturing research here is world class. We are grateful that our Congressional delegation has recognized that, and this support will significantly expand our nanomanufacturing research and our partnership with the Army.”
Portable sensors could be used on the battlefield to allow quick assessment of battlefield environmental conditions and of the condition of infrastructure and mechanical systems, such as bridges and aircraft. Sensors could be used to detect chemical or biological agents, for example.
The research team is partnering with the Army, which has an interest in producing such sensors, not just studying them. The manufacturing research conducted here is expected to help overcome the barriers of rapidly reproducing reliable nano-sized devices, like sensors.