August 19, 2003
Sandia Starts Building Microtechnology Lab
The Associated Press
Construction began Tuesday on what is expected to be the biggest, most advanced microtechnology laboratory in the United States.
The Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications facility at Sandia National Laboratories will cost approximately $462.5 million and should be finished by 2008.
That, coupled with the construction of Sandia's $78.5 million Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, or CINT, an advanced nanotechnology center, has economic developers and technologists excited about the state's financial future.
"I think these facilities are going to be great for us," said Steve Walsh, a professor at the University of New Mexico Anderson Schools of Management. "They will attract people to New Mexico from all over the world. They support the lab's mission of homeland security. They should create technology spin-off companies, new jobs and will put us deep in on technologies that are going to be ubiquitous they'll be incorporated in everything we use."
Microtechnology has led to smaller, faster computers and cell phones and increasingly advanced and accurate printers, sensors and medical devices.
Nanotechnology is often used to make microtechnology work more efficient. Using it, scientists have created advanced waterproof coatings, chemical sensors and liquids that help microsystems gears run more smoothly.
The facilities and spin-off companies could create a high profile industrial cluster much like California's Silicon Valley was for the computer industry for the two sciences in New Mexico, said Terry Michalske, director of CINT.
"Whenever you have the world's best technologies and the world's best scientists and engineers inventing those technologies, you have the capability to spin off a new generation of industry," said Michalske. "Having some of the world's most significant resources in both microtechnology and nanotechnology here in Albuquerque is going to create a phenomenal environment for that next generation of technology to grow."
When complete, MESA will employ about 650 researchers. The 391,000-square-foot facility will span three buildings and include a microsystems manufacturing plant, advanced computer visualization labs, clean rooms, weapons labs and offices.
CINT is one of five national nanotechnology labs being built by the Department of Energy. When complete, the New Mexico facility will employ about 200 people. It is jointly managed by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. Construction is scheduled to start this fall and be completed in 2006.