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Call it a special delivery. Rather than put the check in the mail, U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan decided to hand deliver an oversized one, in the amount of $2 million, to be used for UMass Lowell’s nanonmanufacturing research.
The funds were obtained in the FY07 Defense Appropriations Act, which was signed in early October by President Bush.
Meehan and Kennedy, who was joined by wife Victoria Reggie Kennedy, first were briefed on the promise of nano-sized products; the challenges of producing them at a high rate, at a high volume, but at a low cost; and on the specifics of a collaboration with the Army to produce multi-functional sensors. The sensors are expected to aid detection of threats to a soldier’s environment.
Later, in the Trustees Room, the congressmen presented the check to the University's lead nanomanufacturing researchers, Carol Barry and Joey Mead, professors of plastics engineering, and Julie Chen, professor of mechanical engineering, at a press conference.
Kennedy praised the University for its leadership in the field. "You are where it's at," he said. "It is important that the state catch up with you. It's important that the nation catch up with you. Ensuring that those fighting will have the best technology ߝ that’s being done here at UMass Lowell."
Meehan said, "UMass Lowell, because of its rich history in manufacturing and polymers, is uniquely positioned to become a world leader in nanomanufacturing. The Nanomanufacturing Center will bring thousands of jobs to the region and keep Massachusetts on the cutting edge of this important technology."
Chen, who received the check, addressed the federal and state legislators, saying, "You are helping us to push the turbo button so we can accelerate the work that is being done here."
University of Massachusetts President Jack Wilson said, "We have four world-class scientists right here ߝ three women and a man. ...You have helped make Massachusetts the 'nano' capital of the world. '
Chancellor David J. MacKenzie also thanked the congressional delegation and lauded the researchers.
Also on hand to lend their congratulations to the research effort were Lowell's mayor, William Martin, and its State House delegation: Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos and Reps. Thomas Golden, Kevin Murphy and David Nangle. The delegation helped secure $35 million of an $80 million UMass Lowell Advanced Manufacturing Facility in this past legislative session. A portion of the $2 million in federal funds can be used toward completion of the facility.
Following the official ceremonies, Kennedy and Meehan joined students who were carving pumpkins for the Life is Good jack o’lantern extravaganza.