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New Research Building Shines on Opening Day

ETIC Vaults UMass Lowell Into Vanguard of Research and Innovation

Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at ETIC opening. Meghan Moore photo
Gov. Deval Patrick receives a round of applause during the opening of the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center. Meghan Moore photo.

By Christine Dunlap

The newest light in the dramatically transforming UMass Lowell campus — the Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center (ETIC)—officially opened on Oct. 11 under bright autumn sunlight that caused the building to literally shine.

More than 500 UMass Lowell community members, public officials and industry leaders officially opened ETIC, an 84,000-square-foot, $80 million research center and the first new academic building constructed on campus in more than three decades. 

The cutting-edge facility will be home to advanced research in nanotechnology, molecular biology, plastics engineering and optics that will advance fields such as life sciences, energy, national security, environmental protection and more.

From Gov. Deval Patrick to UMass President Robert Caret, from U.S.Rep. Niki Tsongas to Raytheon Vice President Michael Del Checcolo, speakers at the opening sounded common themes:
  • ETIC will provide hands-on learning and research experience that will help students get good jobs when they graduate;
  • The innovation that emerges will boost the regional and state economies and lead to the creation of jobs and
  • The research, in robust partnership with industry, will help solve the major challenges facing society today.
“The Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center represents where UMass Lowell is headed with industry – working hand in hand, partnering around research challenges, offering state-of-the-art equipment for corporate use and educating their future employees,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan.

Outfitted with specialized, high-powered laboratories and equipment, a plastics processing high bay and high-tech clean rooms, the ETIC will prepare students for jobs in emerging sectors, serve as the site of corporate- and government-sponsored research and foster industry partnerships in the global marketplace. The center’s multi-disciplined capabilities are integrated under one roof and supported by skilled technicians.

The project, which supported hundreds of construction jobs, was funded through $35 million from the Massachusetts Economic Investment Act of 2006, $5 million from the federal government, bonding through the UMass Building Authority, a $10 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, and industry and individual donors, including UMass Lowell alumni.

Gov. Patrick told those gathered, “Our strategy for economic development in Massachusetts rests on education, innovation and infrastructure. This building strikes all three prongs.”

He added, “UMass Lowell deserves these investments from the state because of the quality of your scholarship, the quality of your students and your support of the economies of the region and the state.”

“Investing in institutions of higher education leads to long-term job creation and has a multiplying effect on the community as a whole,” said Rep. Tsongas. “I am so pleased that ETIC is in Lowell.”

Meehan thanked former Chancellor William T. Hogan, who had originally conceived of plans for the facility, and former state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, who helped secure state funding to get the project under way.

“Steve’s support led to our ability to secure research funds at a critical point in the development of our nanotechnology program,” said Meehan. “It is fair to say that without his work in securing approval of the $35 million in state funding for the construction of this facility we may not be standing here today.”

After the speaking program and the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, attendees toured the building and spoke to faculty members, researchers and students on hand in the various labs.

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