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HARRISBURG, PA-The state provided $40 million for the construction of an $84-million, 192,000-sf materials science building, among the largest academic buildings ever constructed on Penn State University’s campus. Currently, the materials science and engineering laboratories, classrooms and offices are located in eight separate campus facilities that are between 50 and 64 years old.

“They require constant renovation to accommodate new nanotechnology instruments, micro- and nano-fabrication, and for bio-materials development and testing,” says Carlo G. Pantano, director of the university’s Materials Research Institute. “Penn State is home to one of the largest concentrations of advanced materials scientists in the world…[and] by far the number one university in the nation for research expenditures in materials science.”

The state’s portion of the funding is from the Public Improvement Project (PIP), which is used to construct, renovate and improve facilities at institutions of higher learning throughout the commonwealth. A University spokesman tells GlobeSt.com the PIP grant “is essentially matching funds. The remainder will be funded by the university through a combination of capital budget and donors.” No timeline is yet final, he says, and the project has not yet gone out for bid.

Graham Spanier, Penn State president, says the design aspect of the project “will take at least a year, and the actual construction of the building will take approximately two years.” It will “occupy a core campus site that will be highly accessible,” and it will provide research and support space for 60 researchers, 150 staff members and 200 graduate students. In handing the check to Spanier, Gov. Ed Rendell called the grant “an investment in the future of education and technology that will fuel cutting-edge research, bring promise of new jobs and further Pennsylvania’s status as a global leader in the biosciences industry.”

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