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Senator Hutchison Tours University’s Research Facilities


W.M. Keck Center
Photo courtesy of UTEP
W.M. Keck Center
 

The University of Texas at El Paso today showcased its expanding border security and defense research portfolio during a visit by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

“With close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border and major military installations, UTEP is in an excellent position to develop new security technologies,” Sen. Hutchison said. “I am proud to help support research at this exemplary institution.”

UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof and Board of Regents Chairman James Huffines joined Natalicio in thanking Hutchison for her efforts to secure federal research funding for UTEP.

Hutchison was instrumental in securing $1 million for the creation of a Center for Defense Systems Research at UTEP. Researchers at the center will study defense and border security issues, and will draw from a number of academic disciplines in science, engineering and liberal arts. The funding was included in the recently approved 2007 Department of Defense appropriations bill.

Hutchison toured the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation research laboratory and also saw demonstrations of several defense- and security-related research projects underway at UTEP.

Among those projects:

  • Border infrastructure risk and analysis researchers are developing techniques for rapidly identifying safe destinations and evacuation routes during an emergency, and creating models to provide real-time traffic feedback for emergency management personnel
  • Facial recognition researchers are studying the many facets of face perception, memory and identification, and are working to create training models for law enforcement officials charged with identifying suspected criminals and terrorists
  • Bio-defense researchers are studying ways to combat bioterrorism by securing the border against the entry of infectious organisms, and are developing methods for detection and early warning of infectious disease and biological agents that threaten public health (a partnership with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston)
  • Nano- and micro-manufacturing are just two areas of research in the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation. The center has equipment for rapidly manufacturing mechanical prototypes and other products for use in defense industries
  • Geographic information system databases at the recently established Texas Regional Geospatial Service Center on campus are used for creating maps, assisting with emergency planning and response and supporting regional natural resource management. Hutchison played a key role in securing the $1.9 million UTEP received to establish the center.

“UTEP’s location in the El Paso-Juárez borderplex means that border security and defense are issues of daily relevance to us,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “We are uniquely positioned to be a leader in border security and defense systems research.”

– Kimberly Miller

Horizons Online News. Citing Internet Resources. [Online], October 11, 2006.