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Construction on Illinois Accelerator Research Center Now Underway

On Dec. 16, officials broke ground for the Illinois Accelerator Research Center at Fermilab.

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DZero collaborator and state representative Mike Fortner dreamed about this type of building on the Fermilab campus since he first joined the state legislature. The Illinois Accelerator Research Center (IARC) will be a place for students and industry to mix with scientists and engineers to develop the next high-tech particle accelerator technologies and translate them into applications for industry, energy, the environment, medicine and science.

Fermilab has long taught industry to make components for its experiments, and industry has long adapted these technological advances for the benefit of other customers.

But the IARC ground-breaking ceremony on Friday, Dec. 16, marked the first direct link, Fortner said, between Fermilab and industry to guide accelerator innovation from idea to prototype to the market place.

"This is taking our state in the right direction," said Illinois Senator Linda Holmes. "It is creating 80 construction jobs and, once it is constructed, it will create many good-paying, high-tech jobs right here in Illinois."

State, federal and local officials, as well as several industrial leaders, gathered at the CDF building to celebrate the ground-breaking of a new 42,000-square-foot research center to be developed on the building's western edge. The facility, which is jointly funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the state of Illinois, will also include the refurbished CDF building.

Strengthening the connection between industry and national laboratories to foster American competiveness is a key aim of DOE, particularly in the area of accelerator research. About 30,000 accelerators worldwide operate in the fields of medicine, science, manufacturing, defense and national security. The products that are processed, treated and inspected by particle beams from these accelerators have an estimated annual value of more than $500 billion.

However, the nation lacks enough training centers for accelerator scientists to feed this growing segment of the economy. IARC will help meet that need.

"The IARC facility will help fuel innovation by developing advanced technologies, strengthening ties with industry and training the scientists of tomorrow," said William Brinkman, head of the DOE's Office of Science.

An Illinois Jobs Now! capital bill and DOE funding make IARC construction possible. Fortner and Holmes were instrumental in securing the state funding, said Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He called IARC an opportunity to become a catalyst for future projects that will boost the local economy and secure a role for Illinois and the United States as a leader in the global marketplace.

"I firmly believe that the health and well-being of our nation is strongly tied to our ability to develop and nurture a strong ecosystem where basic research, academia and industry all complement one another," said Congressman Randy Hultgren, in a written statement. "I am confident IARC wil serve that purpose extremely well."