Sustainable community planned with NASA

March 14, 2009 3:23:33 PM PDT
Leaders in education, science and Silicon Valley entrepreneurship gathered at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field Friday to announce a plan to create a sustainable community of students, researchers and businesses on 75 acres of NASA Research Park land.

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The community will provide research and development space, an area for participating companies as well as some residences while students, scientists and business work toward goals centering around clean and green technology, reduction of carbon emissions, use of solar energy and public transportation systems, the creation of green jobs and the training of workers to fill such jobs.

The University of California, Santa Cruz joined with Foothill/DeAnza Community College to create University Associates - Silicon Valley, LLC and signed the lease with NASA at the end of last year.

The "unique 21st Century partnership" and resulting project at NASA Research Park will benefit students, researchers, residents of Silicon Valley and the world, UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal said.

"(The community can expect to see) new opportunities for students of all levels, beginning frosh to our advanced graduate students; they can expect collaborations between universities and entrepreneurs so that the research that develops new ideas for example in green technology can actually come to market to benefit society," Blumenthal said. "And they can expect to see a development that uses the newest and best green technology."

Blumenthal said the development is expected to be the most sustainable in the country and will provide an example of technologies that can be used to create clean, green communities around the world.

Foothill-DeAnza Chancellor Martha Kanter said she is excited about the project, which has been in the works for at least a decade and will provide a pathway for community college students to begin research and work their way through four-year universities.

"We supply the pipeline of students to go forward, whether they become research scientists, whether they support the technical and technology staff in Silicon Valley, where they become the work force that we need to get things done and live here," Kanter said.

Community college students will participate in workforce training and move on to universities, Kanter said.

"This will be a center for innovation and ideas and new academic programs," Kanter said of the community.

In addition to the community colleges and UC Santa Cruz, Santa Clara University and Carnegie Mellon University have been involved in the program's inception. The two schools have shown interest but are not officially signed on to be a part of the development. San Jose State University has also shown interest in participating.

Santa Clara University president the Rev. Michael Engh said he is new to his post and will be working with the trustees to determine the school's involvement with the project at Moffett Field.

"There is a great deal of work that was done by my predecessor, and so I'm now being brought up to speed. We're finalizing the due diligence of it," he said.

Engh said he is excited about the potentials the project brings for the university community.

"I'm very excited about it because of the great potential for our faculty to collaborate with other faculty and the opportunities for our students, both graduate and undergraduate, to participate in this research here, whether it be cutting edge technology (or) cutting edge science," Engh said. "There's tremendous possibilities for us."

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