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UMass Lowell will receive $4 million for the campus's nanomanufacturing research and development, under the defense appropriations bill that passed Congress December 19.
"UMass Lowell is the place to go to get nanotech-based products that will work in battlefield conditions. Our Congressional delegation and the U.S. Army know that," said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. "The sensors we have developed will be the proverbial canary in a coalmine for our soldiers - determining whether an area is free of biological or chemical substances so no one risks his or her life entering it. We could not continue this work without the critical support of Senators John Kerry and Paul Kirk and Representative Niki Tsongas." First funded in the 2007 appropriation act, UMass Lowell has received $4.6 million in congressionally directed funding for the research project to date.
"Under Chancellor Meehan's leadership, UMass Lowell is leading the nanotech revolution among educational institutions. This new investment will help the University to continue developing cutting edge technologies that will keep our state at the forefront of scientific discovery," said Senator John Kerry.
"I commend UMass Lowell for its impressive leadership on multifunctional sensors," said Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr. "Few things are more important than coming up with better ways to ensure that our brave men and women are as safe as possible. This state-of-the-art technology will help protect our soldiers on the battlefield, and I couldn't be more pleased that federal funds are going to this worthwhile project."
"This funding for further development of nanotechnology sensors will help better protect our servicemen and women, while simultaneously creating new opportunities for UMass Lowell students," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "Chancellor Meehan should be recognized for pursuing these federal funds, and helping to place the University at the forefront of this groundbreaking field."
In addition to the development of threat-detecting sensors, UMass Lowell's research team is also developing methods to detect structural damage in vehicles like helicopters, a technology that can provide significant cost savings to the military. Rather than replace, say, helicopter rotors on a scheduled basis, as is often the practice, the monitors would detect when structural damage begins and replacement should occur.
UMass Lowell's expertise in advanced manufacturing processes is helping determine how to manufacture these nanotechnology-based products in mass quantities that are usable in many environments. Commercial applications are likely to emerge.
Federal funding this year will also help equip the University's new Emerging Technology and Innovation Center (ETIC), slated to break ground this spring. The $80-million-dollar ETIC will be the first new academic building on campus in more than 30 years.
Significant funds for the ETIC were provided under the Massachusetts Economic Investment Act of 2006. The R&D conducted in the facility is expected to spur about 300 new jobs over the next five years. Current industry partners include BASF, Textron, Nanogreen Solutions Corp., Nypro Inc., Teknor/Apex and Nynodynamics Inc.
UMass Lowell partners closely with the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Hyattsville, MD, and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, known locally as the Natick Labs, on the sensor and health monitoring research. "They recently were briefed on our R&D by nine members of our faculty, and we came away with a better sense of how to meet the Army's needs," said Prof. Joey Mead, who directs UMass Lowell's federally funded nanomanufacturing research team. "It's a partnership that works."
The defense appropriations bill has cleared its final congressional hurdle and is now before the President, who is expected to sign it.
About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. The University offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, co-ops, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education.
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Renae Lias Claffey
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