Big Business With Tiny Tools
MU engineers are celebrating a budding relationship with the Department of Defense, while they are behind locked doors in the engineering building basement.
"Our goal is to use part of this money to enhance this facility," said Shubhra Gangopadhyay, the co-director of the Nanotechnology Center. A new contract with the D.O.D. could bring in as much as $10 million to bolster the center's capabilities.
"We hope so, I mean, that's what we're working so hard to do," said Sheri Grant, the assistant co-director of the Nanotechnology Center. The directors say people are looking to MU because it's an up-and-comer in the field of nanotechnology, also known as molecular level research.
"We have this unique capability that can't be found anywhere else in the state," said Grant. The contract focuses on developing alternative energy sources and biosensors that, for the military, could detect biological and chemical weapons.
One Army representative KOMU spoke with says he hopes for a long relationship with the engineers at MU. Because once the military implements technology prototyped in the engineering building, they'll come back to Missouri looking for someone to produce it.
Gangopadhyay said "what we're doing is encouraging students who are working on the projects to either start a company or become part of a company." Companies that could take the same technology and use it in other fields.
"Because of the dual-use nature of the things we're developing," said Grant, "I see us contributing a lot to the healthcare industry as well."
The directors say work on this contract is underway and could last for years. While the department can afford to buy some new equipment as part of this defense contract, it is still looking for donations to renovate existing facilities that could cost millions of dollars.