The senior Maine 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 on Thursday night, including $89.5 million to go to the University of Maine system after U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, helped pass the funding. 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 at Orono.
Of the funding, $35 million will go to UMaine’s Factory of the Future, which will help continue ongoing research into affordable 3D-printed homes. The new facility will also work to develop clean energy, construction, transportation, shipbuilding and other furniture industries.
The factory of the future is an initiative stemming from the UMaine advanced structures and composites center directed by Habib Dagher, executive director of the center.
Collins has long supported the university system and specifically Dagher’s work at the Composites Center. Three weeks ago, Collins attended the unveiling of a new 3D-printed ship being developed at the Composites Center for testing by the Department of Defense.
“Under the brilliant leadership of Dr. Habib Dagher, the Composites Center at UMaine is a pioneer in using cutting-edge materials and techniques to transform all sectors 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 has received Congressional money is UMaine’s research into bio-composites, which will see $20 million in funding. This project focuses on the research and development of additive manufacturing using materials from forest products.
Wind energy research will see a $10 million boost and $6 million will go towards the university’s ongoing research into unmanned maritime vehicles.
The university will also receive an additional $6 million to continue its work with the U.S. military to develop 3D-printed shelters that can be quickly deployed in the field. This project is also part of the work carried out by Dagher and the composites division.
Additionally, $2 million in funds will be dedicated to research that will support local and regional seafood systems.
Collins said she specifically pushed for this funding batch because of the innovation the university system has shown.
The bill has passed the House and Senate and only needs President Joe Biden’s signature. In the trillion-dollar bill, $13 billion is earmarked to support Ukraine as the country tries to fend off an invasion by Russia.