Alyssa Tyler editor in chief
This past week, a variety of different leaders across the state of Kansas and the National Science Foundation spent Jan. 20 touring different parts of Pittsburg State University.
“A lot of what was going on today was introducing the director of the National Science Foundation to what we are doing here at NIMA. In the realm of using material science to catalyze growth of manufacturing in the Midwest, not just in Kansas, but in the central region here. But we have students graduating out of plastic programs and in the polymer chemistry programs and going all over the nation,” said Tim Dawsey, Executive Director for the Advancement of Applied Science & Technology and National Institute for Materials Advancement. “And that’s great, we want them to have that opportunity, but we also want them to have the opportunities here. A big part of what we are doing and what was going on today is, was building that momentum that we have going now. So that now the director of the science foundation, who has never heard of us, will now understand that we’re for real. We really do have the top scientists, the ideas, we have the students, we have the capability to deliver on what we’re saying.”
Some of the people in attendance of the tour and meeting were U.S Senator Jerry Moran (Kan.), Kansas Lt. Governor David Toland, the National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, NSF Head of Legislative and Public Affairs Amanda Greenwell, and John Tomblin, senior vice president for the Industry & Defense Programs at Wichita State University.
“At every opportunity that we can bring decision makers, people who make important decisions in the nations capital, in Kansas. We work to do that and today it is the director of the National Science Foundation, this is important across the country, but important to me because that director, Dr. Panchanathan, sees what’s going on at Pittsburg State University in regard to polymer research, and in regard to plastics and their desire to expand that into the world of chips and chip research,” said Moran. “The opportunity exists for there to further financial support for the programs here at Pittsburg State. Much of this effort today involves federal money, often from the economic development administration. But now that this facility and this research is moving forward, it’s an opportunity for us to highlight and showcase what NSF might be able to support in a grant process at Pittsburg State.”
NIMA is in the process of applying for multiple million-dollar grants, but they had one main grant in mind during the presentation and tour.
“There is a grant process, there are actually multiple grants. One of the main ones we were talking about today is we are pursuing a national center for semi-conductor research and testing. With that we’re looking for around or a little over 18 million. Between 18-million and 20-million-dollar funding to come and build a new facility out here that will then focus on semi-conductors,” said Dawsey.
The grant money would be used to build research facilities for semi-conductors near the already built Tyler Research Center.
“Semi-conductors are used in everything, not just the micro-chip. They’re used in everything. So, with the grant that we are pursuing, if we said the one, it’s about a 20 million dollar grant. But there are a number of others that we have in the works as well. A million here and a million there. Our intention is, the seven acres out here, our plan is to basically fill this with research facilities that industries and other universities can collaborate with us,” said Dawsey.
While the grant will help Pitt State, the goal is not only help Kansas, but the Midwest region as well.
“The overall goal here is protect our country, our national security, it’s economic well-being, but I want to make certain that this part of Kansas and Kansas in general, that our kids who like science and mathematics and engineering and research. We’re an agricultural state we manufacture a lot of airplanes, we produce a lot of energy, there is a lot of manufacturing that goes on here in this part of Kansas. But we need to make sure that we don’t loose some of our best talent and intellect by students who get educated here but then have to find jobs somewhere else in the country,” said Moran. “So the goal here is to make sure Kansas is that place for our kids, beyond our borders. How do we make this region a place where the kids who grew up here have the opportunity to raise their families here, because there are good high paying jobs, where we can have science, engineering and technology.”