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Gov. Deval Patrick’s lesson in advanced technologies ߝ offered by engineering faculty ߝ earned him an ‘A’ from all who saw him on campus Tuesday.
“I must come to Lowell more often!” he exclaimed, as he took in the jubilant crowd of faculty, staff, students, community and business leaders assembled in the Nypro Injection Molding Lab in Ball Hall for a press conference following a lab tour.
The cause for celebration: Patrick’s pledge of support for the new nano- and bio-manufacturing research and business assistance center.
“I give you my unwavering commitment to getting it done,” he said. The administration has scheduled a transfer of $4 million dollars for the current fiscal year and committed to another $31 million thereafter.
Patrick’s tour of existing labs available to the two programs highlighted the University’s commitment to providing space and securing equipment, while acknowledging the need for the new facility. “As you can see, we’re a little constrained in here,” said Assoc. Prof. Carl Lawton, director of the Massachusetts BioManufacturing Center, as Patrick, state legislators and media crowded into laboratory space on the fifth floor of Olney.
In shared research space on the ground floor of Olney, Patrick received a quick lesson in how to use a field emission scanning electron microscope from research assistant Harsha Jogdand and Earl Ada, manager of the materials characterization lab.
At a press conference following the tour, Chancellor David MacKenzie opened by pointing out that he wears two hats when it comes to the new building ߝ as chancellor and as head of the UMass Building Authority, which has oversight of construction of the building.
Newly appointed Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos, said “If we do [the center] right, Massachusetts will be recognized as an international leader in the field. And it’s happening right here in Lowell, Massachusetts.”
Patrick thanked Panagiotakos and area legislators who played a role in gaining state funds for the new facility: Rep. Kevin Murphy, Rep. David Nangle, Rep. Thomas Golden and Rep. Colleen Garry. “I just got to this party,” he said. “The hard work on this issue has been going on for years.”
Prof. Joey Mead, co-director of the Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing, said the manufacturing research moves the field of nanotechnology toward commercial products to benefit people. She said that UMass Lowell is doing this responsibly, considering the health and environment impacts of the new technologies. “We can help create new products and new jobs,” she said, after thanking the Governor for his strong support.
Rep. Kevin Murphy, chair of the Higher Education Committee, said “Gov. Patrick is a breath of fresh air in his commitment to the value of investing in public higher education.
While Patrick expressed an interest in visiting Lowell more often, UMass President Jack Wilson pointed out that Patrick has already been to the campus more times than his predecessors. “And that was before he took office,” Wilson added.
Patrick described his lab tour as “nanotechnology 102,” having met with UMass Lowell’s nanotechnology team early in the primary season in 2005. Last December, Patrick spoke at incoming Chancellor and U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan’s Town Meeting in Durgin Hall, “Climate Change: Local Solutions to a Global Crisis.”