MSU nets $1.8M grant for analytical equipment facility

Staff Writer

Following the approval of a $1.8 million grant, a planned building in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park has come closer to fruition.

The Economic Development Administration grant was announced Monday By Republican Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and will be used to fund construction of a new building for MSU’s Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies (I2AT). The grant will cover 40 percent of the cost, with the remaining 60 percent of the $4 million building being funded by loans taken out by the Research and Technology Corporation. The corporation plans to pay back the loans using proceeds from the use of the analysis equipment, which will be located in the new facility.

“That center basically houses a lot of our analytical equipment, like our microscopy equipment, our X-ray equipment, CT scanners and those kind of things,” said MSU Associate Vice President for Corporate Engagement and Economic Development Kathy Gelston. “We use the equipment to basically do a lot of our research whether that’s looking at magnification, magnetic resonance, or those types of things to test items.”

She said most of MSU’s equipment is located either in the basement of the entomology building or in the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. With the current locations, Gelston said it was hard for researchers to use the equipment and even harder for those from industries outside of the university.

It is important for the building to be located in a place where passing vehicles or other sources of vibration, which could cause the sensitive equipment to read inaccurately.

“This equipment is utilized by our researchers, but for example if a company’s got a delivery of screws and they kept on having breakages with those screws, they may want to send us a sample for us to check and make sure that there aren’t defects in the metal,” Gelston said.

Gelston said the corporation board would meet in the coming month, and look into loans for the rest of the funds. After the remaining funds are secured, a clearer timeframe for the building will be set.

“It’s been a dream for a number of years,” Gelston said. “Our current director, which is Zach Rowland and Marc McGee, who is the director or the Research Technology Corporation really worked hard with the EDA, to get their representative from Atlanta, and help them see our region.”

She said the application for the grant was sent close to a year and a half ago.

“This is an exciting investment in scientific research through education and workforce development in Mississippi.” Cochran said. “I thank Secretary Ross and the Economic Development Administration for recognizing the value in Mississippi State University’s efforts to promote innovation and economic growth.”