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New link with Idaho lab offers research opportunities

MIT has announced the formation of the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) University Research Consortium. MIT will lead the consortium where collaborative research with the INEL staff will be conducted.

The consortium was an important element of Lockheed Idaho Technologies Co.'s (LITCO) winning proposal to the Department of Energy in a recent competition for the management and operation of the INEL. LITCO proposed the consortium as a vehicle to attract leading universities to INEL collaborations that would complement the laboratory's applied engineering capabilities. The firm also intends that the consortium will assist it to further the DOE missions to aid the Idaho region's economy and to strengthen national industrial competitiveness.

LITCO is providing funds to the Consortium for projects that have potential for commercialization within five years. A total of $10 million is available for fiscal 1996. It is expected that about $15 million will be available annually after that. Researchers in all US universities are eligible to participate if they have an active partner at the INEL. Information about how to submit requests for funding can be obtained by sending e-mail to with the message Get INEL Consort. MIT researchers can pick up a copy at the Consortium Program Office, Rm E40-391.

MIT, the University of Idaho and Idaho State University are the initial full members of the consortium. Full members participate in setting policies, plans and assessment for the consortium program.

Professor Jefferson W. Tester, director of the MIT Energy Laboratory, and Professor Mujid S. Kazimi, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering, are MIT's co-principal investigators. Dr. Elisabeth M. Drake, associate director of the Energy Laboratory, and Dr. Malcolm A. Weiss, a senior research staff member at the Energy Laboratory, are the MIT co-directors overseeing program operations.

The consortium's three focus areas are nuclear technology; environmental management and industrial ecology, and high-performance engineering systems. A small group of faculty members will head the efforts in each area.

Professor Michael W. Golay will head the nuclear technology portion, working with Professors Kazimi, Ronald G. Ballinger, Otto K. Harling and Lawrence M. Lidsky.

Professor Kenneth A. Smith will head the environmental management/industrial ecology portion, working with Professors Tester, David H. Marks, Kent F. Hansen, Donald R. Sadoway and Joel P. Clark.

Professor Thomas W. Eagar, head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, will head the high-performance engineering systems area, working with Professors Neil E. Todreas, Fred Moavenzadeh, Joseph M. Sussman, John G. Kassakian, M. Nafi Toksoz and Carl R. Peterson.

Criteria for selecting research topics include technical merit, the strategic merit associated with the value added by the partnership, and the contribution to some core DOE goal, including the development of better energy and environmental technologies. The goals also include helping industry shift from waste management to resource efficiency and pollution prevention; establishing DOE as industry's R&D provider of choice in areas of INEL's scientific and technical competency, and accelerating national use of emerging and competitive technologies.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 1, 1995.

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