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5 Scientific Research Facilities Get Big Dollar Boost for New Construction

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded $50 million in grants across five institutions to support the construction of new scientific research facilities. These labs--at four universities and a non-profit organization--will cover a wide variety of research fields.

The largest award--$13.1 million--will go to the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York to construct the Golisano Institute for Sustainability Research Building. This $35 million environmentally friendly building at the Institute will support green-building research and other sustainable technologies. The project is targeted to be done by fall 2012.

A $12.2 million award is heading to the University of Nevada, Reno to expand facilities at the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research. The $15 million construction project will include a 22,650-square foot "Shake Table Laboratory," the largest earthquake simulation facility in the United States. Completion is projected for fall 2013.

The Center of Excellence in Nano Mechanical Science & Engineering (NAMSE) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will receive $9.5 million. The $41 million Center will include special ultra-low vibration (ULV) labs and will focus on topics that intersect the fields of mechanical engineering and nanometer-scale science and technology. It's expected to be done by summer 2013.

A grant of $9.1 million will go to Center for Ocean Health at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in West Boothbay Harbor, ME to house coastal research of microbial life in marine ecosystems and the health of the oceans. This $11 million project is targeted for summer 2012 completion.

A $6 million award to the Western Institute of Nanotechnology on Green Engineering and Metrology at the University of California, Los Angeles will bring together three research facilities to work together in developing advanced energy technologies for microelectronics and nanotechnology. The $30 million project will be finished, according to plans, by spring 2014.

The grants were awarded through an application process that started in February 2010. NIST evaluated the 100-plus proposals it received by three criteria: the scientific and technical merits of the work proposed for the facility and its need for federal funding; the quality of the design of the facility; and adequacy of the project management plan for construction of the facility. The recipient organizations are responsible for funding at least 20 percent of the annual project costs.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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