College of Technology, LCI receive funding for Air Force projects through partnership

Jackie Valley

President Bush’s signature granted Kent State $2 million for an alternative energy project last week, but his veto of another appropriations bill put other university funds in limbo.

Connie Hawke, director of federal relations, said the federal Defense Appropriations Bill signed into law last week includes funding for a partnership between Kent State and the Battelle Institute, a research and development enterprise in Columbus.

Hawke said Sen. Sherrod Brown added $1 million to the original earmark, bringing the total to $2 million for the project.

“The Defense Department will make the award to Battelle, and we will subcontract with Battelle to do the work needed,” she said.

Hawke said the goal of the project, which will be completed in three 12-month phases, is to develop and demonstrate an affordable fuel cell based power generation system for the Air Force.

Donald Coates, professor in the College of Technology, will lead the Kent State portion of the project, which includes developing advanced manufacturing techniques and new catalysts that will help lower production costs of the power generation system, Hawke said.

The vetoed bill — the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill — included nearly $1.5 million earmarked funds for Kent State. The House of Representatives fell short of the needed two-third majority vote to override the president’s veto.

The earmarks for Kent State, added by Ohio congressmen, included funding for regional campus initiatives, building projects and equipment.

“Right now, we are on hold until the Democratic leaders can figure out how to get that bill passed,” Hawke said.

Hawke said this is the first time in recent history that the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill did not pass the president’s approval.

Hawke said Congress will decide how to trim costs in the bill, including maybe cutting some of the 2,200 earmarks in the bill.

“Now, it’s about getting the numbers down to where he won’t veto it,” she said.

Alpha Micron, the spin-off company of the Kent State Liquid Crystal Institute, also received funding from the Defense Appropriations Bill — $1 million to work on a project for the Air Force developing transmittance visors for pilots.

Bahman Taheri, chief executive officer of Alpha Micron, said the government funding for technology initiatives in Kent will help grow the region’s economy.

“This is a new technology,” he said. “No one else has it.”

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].