Sensor research supported by $1.1 million federal earmark

November 13, 2003

A $1.1 million federal earmark championed by Congressman Maurice Hinchey, NY-22 will support Binghamton University's advanced sensor design and threat detection research as part of the University's overarching initiative to carve out an important niche for itself in the area of small-scale systems research and development.

"The ability to manipulate and understand the world at a scale five times smaller than a virus promises to be the taproot of major change from here on," said Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research. But no matter how powerful the chip, no matter how small, sensitive or maneuverable the probe, it's the incorporation of micro- and nano-scale elements into working systems that will spell the difference in the 21st century between fanciful pieces and parts and valuable, viable products."

Sammakia said the federal appropriation would add momentum to the University's efforts to grow its research infrastructure both on and off campus.

"This is exciting news and will allow us to continue to develop thematic areas of expertise that will help Binghamton University and the Greater Binghamton community enhance their contributions to regional economic vitality and quality of life," he said.

Hinchey's earmark, the second federal appropriation received by BU in as many years, is part of a Defense Appropriations conference report that passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The report is expected to pass the U.S. Senate and be signed into law. The earmark is five times larger than the University's first-ever appropriation, which last year targeted $200,000 toward the support of BU's protein dynamics research.

"The researchers at Binghamton University are working on some innovative and important projects, including this one, which has great potential for enhancing the safety of our troops," said Hinchey of the sensors research. "At the local level, the influx of money will have significant economic benefits for the Southern Tier. The University is unique situation to effect positive change in the area's economy." In combination with other federal and state funding and with the support of cooperative partnerships with other institutions and regional companies, the earmark will enhance the development of small-scale systems research facilities on the main campus, at the Innovative Technologies Complex at the eastern edge of the campus, and at Endicott Interconnect Technologies in Endicott, Sammakia said.

Renovation of the former NYSEG building is underway at the Innovative Technologies Complex, located on a 21-acre site along Murray Hill Road. The work is expected to get a major boost with the expected receipt of $15 million in state Gen*NY*sis funds. The funds were pledged to the project earlier this year with the backing of state Senator Thomas Libous.

Plans call for the transformation of the existing building at the site from an out-of-date office building into leading-edge research laboratories, pre-incubator space and support service and community outreach offices. Preparatory design and related work has been underway at the site. In Endicott, the University is also collaborating with EIT in the development of nanotechnology research projects that promise to lead to the expansion of the BU's off-campus research infrastructure, Sammakia said.

The sensor's earmark will support projects involving all three sites and up to 30 Binghamton faculty members from across the disciplines working in small-scale systems research.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Hinchey helps write the 13 discretionary spending bills that Congress must pass each year. In that capacity, he has direct influence on the funding of federal programs and has a greater opportunity to request specific earmarks for projects in his district.

In September 2002, Hinchey held two meetings in his Washington office with President Lois B. DeFleur and researchers from the school to discuss the need for federal assistance. He met again with University officials in June and agreed to look for ways to provide help BU, which he said is key to the region's economic health.

In July, Hinchey succeeded in placing a $2.2 million earmark in the House version of the Defense spending bill. The earmark was not included in the Senate version. A House-Senate conference committee, formed to resolve differences between the two versions, reduced the amount to $1.1 million.

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