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Boise State Gets $25M for Center for New Materials Research Center

Center will allow Boise State to better answer industry’s call for a more broadly based, technically fluent workforce

$25 Million Gift From the Micron Foundation to Create Materials Research Center at Boise State
Image courtesy of Boise State University

Boise State University
today (Oct. 22) announced a $25 million gift from the Micron Foundation that will have a transformational impact on the field of engineering and materials research. The largest gift in the university’s history will fund the establishment of a new Center for Materials Research, operated by the College of Engineering. Current plans call for the building to be constructed west of the Engineering Building on University Drive.

“We are thrilled with the generosity and continuing partnership of Micron,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “This gift recognizes our growing reputation as an innovator in the area of materials science and will allow us to contribute on a grander scale to a field that has incredible significance in today’s ever-evolving world.”

Materials science and engineering undergradsMaterials science and engineering undergrads Kari McLaughlin and Jennifer Watkins conduct research on the low temperature electrical probe.Photo courtesy of Boise State University“Since its inception, we have proudly partnered with Boise State’s College of Engineering to inspire the next generation of innovators,” said Mark Durcan, chief executive officer of Micron Technology and chairman of the Micron Foundation. “This donation builds on the program’s accomplishments by giving the brightest minds the tools and resources they need to compete on a global level. Together, we are empowering both our students and our community to engineer the future.”

The Center for Materials Research will allow Boise State to better answer industry’s call for a more broadly based, technically fluent workforce. Students earning a degree in materials science and engineering emerge as important contributors across many scientific disciplines, including manufacturing technology, new materials, cancer research, energy studies, space and aeronautics, and the development of new sensors and microelectronic devices.

Materials science is a highly essential area of study due to its inherent interdisciplinary nature and applicability within a variety of fields, including medicine, technology and commercial merchandise,” said Brittany Cannon, a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering and a member of the Nanoscale Materials and Device Group. “The implementation of new state-of-the-art lab facilities at Boise State University would provide unique opportunities for future students to have better access to equipment and lab space that will broaden their skill set, complement and enhance their classroom experience, and enable greater collaboration between research groups within the university.”

“There has never been a more urgent need for this center,” said Amy Moll, dean of the College of Engineering. “It will elevate our materials research to national prominence and allow students and faculty access to a world-class facility in which to conduct research that will lead to profound discoveries.”

using the glove box to identify materials for research on sodium-ion batteriesMaterials science and engineering graduate students Kassi Smith and Armen Kvryan use the glove box to identify materials for research on sodium-ion batteries.Photo courtesy of Boise State UniversityJenni Domanowski, a materials science junior, agrees. “In all of my past internships, my employers have constantly stressed how crucial hands-on experience is in the hiring process,” she said. “Being able to present myself with confidence and a lot of experience, especially as an undergraduate, opens up countless opportunities for me in the field of materials science.”

Materials define the performance limits of any device, from the car to the computer chip, added Peter Mullner, chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). “Materials define what is technologically possible, and through their manufacturability, they also define what is economically possible.”

MSE is a department on the move. To meet a growing demand for materials scientists, Boise State’s program has doubled its faculty since 2012. Undergraduate and graduate enrollment continues to increase with a goal of 10 PhD graduates per year. More than half of materials science graduates find employment in the Treasure Valley (many with Micron) and others continue their education with graduate school or as post-doctoral researchers.

“Micron’s investments in Boise State’s programs and facilities have made it an indispensable partner in the university’s ongoing transformation as a metropolitan research university of distinction,” said Laura C. Simic, vice president for university advancement. “Our histories are deeply intertwined, going back more than 20 years. The partnership is a stellar example of how philanthropy creates intellectual capital and enhances economic development.”

Boise State’s College of Engineering was first established in 1997 with a $6 million donation from Micron to build a new engineering complex. Through generous gifts from Micron and the Micron Foundation, undergraduate and PhD programs in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering were created.

Boise State will recognize this latest gift on Nov. 14 (Idaho Technology Day) by welcoming Micron CEO Mark Durcan onto the Albertsons Stadium blue turf during halftime of the game against New Mexico.