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Bill benefits NDSU projects

In a major boost to ongoing research, North Dakota State University will share nearly $42 million in defense spending approved by House and Senate negotiators.

In a major boost to ongoing research, North Dakota State University will share nearly $42 million in defense spending approved by House and Senate negotiators.

The funding is part of the $355 billion defense bill for fiscal year 2003 approved by a House-Senate conference committee late Wednesday.

The bill includes more than $115 million for North Dakota-related defense projects, said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

"In light of what we're facing with the war on terrorism and other challenges, it's a substantial increase in defense spending," he said Thursday.

Dorgan said he expects Congress to "easily" approve the compromise bill next week and President Bush to sign it the following day.


The $42 million in NDSU-related funding is about $8 million less than what the Senate had approved.

"I expected we would have to compromise some in conference (committee), but I am very satisfied," said Dorgan, who sits on the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee and the conference committee.

The largest appropriation for North Dakota is $68.9 million to maintain 18 B-52 bombers on reserve at Minot Air Force Base.

Most of the NDSU-related funding will be used to continue existing research projects.

"I think all of these are above or right near record-setting (funding) levels," said Philip Boudjouk, NDSU vice president for research.

Topping the list is $25 million to develop an ultra- low-power battlefield sensor system. NDSU will produce tiny microchips and find uses for them in the university's Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Boudjouk said the Department of Defense is particularly interested in using the flexible microchips to track inventory down to a single bullet.

NDSU will spend much of the $25 million acquiring the microchip technology from California-based Alien Technology Corp., one of three private partners in the project.


The school also will receive $4.9 million to expand research on anti-fouling and corrosion coatings for Navy vessels. In that area, NDSU is the Navy's largest researcher, Boudjouk said.

The defense bill also contains:

- $7 million for NDSU and two companies to improve the military's wireless communications systems.

- $2.8 million for NDSU's polymers and coatings department to protect aircraft against weathering and corrosion.

- $1.5 million for NDSU and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to study ways to prevent corrosion in aircraft.

- $750,000 to $1 million for NDSU to conduct research on cutting-edge "spin electronics."

NDSU will conduct most of the research in the Research 1 and Research 2, buildings located in the university's Research and Technology Park.

Research 2 is currently under construction and slated for completion in spring 2004.


About 100 people will work in each building, most of them doing federally-funded research, Boudjouk said.

Federal funding allows NDSU to build infrastructure needed for further government research, he said.

"Almost all of our efforts are geared toward eventual commercialization in one way or the other, either through patents or licensing arrangements and hopefully, eventually, spin-off companies in North Dakota," Boudjouk said.

Elsewhere in North Dakota, the defense bill will provide:

- Funding to upgrade 150 Minuteman III missiles at the Minot Air Force Base.

- $3.5 million for the ATLAS cargo moving system, built in part at the Textron factory in Oakes, N.D.

E $1.4 million to refine and evaluate wire chaffing detection technology, licensed exclusively to Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing.

- $1.4 million to train Army helicopter pilots at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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