Maine’s senior senator has secured nearly $90 million in congressional funds to support research at the University of Maine System.
The Senate passed a $1.6 trillion spending package late Thursday with $89.5 million to be directed to the University of Maine System after U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, helped push the funding through. The nearly $90 million will support more than a dozen projects across the system, with about $58.5 million of the total pot going directly to the University of Maine in Orono.
Of the funding, $35 million will go to UMaine’s Factory of the Future, which will help further ongoing research into affordable 3-D printed homes. The new facility will also work on the development of clean energy, construction, transportation, boatbuilding and other furniture industries.
The Factory of the Future is an initiative grown out of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center run by Habib Dagher, executive director of the center.
Collins has long been a supporter of the university system and specifically Dagher’s work at the composites center. Three weeks ago, Collins attended the unveiling of a newly designed 3-D printed vessel developed at the composites center for testing by the Department of Defense.
“Under Dr. Habib Dagher’s brilliant direction, UMaine’s Composites Center is pioneering the use of cutting-edge materials and techniques to transform every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to our transportation network,” Collins said. “I am proud to continue to support the excellent work of its faculty, staff, and students.”
Another key project that received a sum of congressional cash is UMaine’s research into bio-composites, which will see $20 million in funding. This project focuses on researching and developing additive manufacturing from materials derived from forest products.
Wind energy research will see a $10 million boost and $6 million will go toward the university’s continued research into unmanned maritime vehicles.
The university will also get an additional $6 million to continue its work with the U.S. Army to develop 3-D printed shelters that can be rapidly deployed in the field. That project is also part of the work Dagher and the composites center have been conducting.
Plus, $2 million in funds will be devoted to research that will support local and regional seafood systems.
Collins said she pushed specifically for this batch of funding because of the innovation the university system has shown.
The bill was passed by the House and the Senate, and just needs President Joe Biden’s signature. Within the trillion dollar bill is $13 billion devoted to supporting Ukraine as the country attempts to fend off an invasion by Russia.