Senate Passes Funding for Arkansas Defense Projects

September 8, 2006 - Posted at 5:43 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor announced Friday that the Senate approved funding for several projects critical to Arkansas' military instillations, research institutions and defense contractors.

The Standoff Hazardous Agent Detection and Evaluation System or S.H.A.D.E.S. at ASU could receive $4 million dollars if the funding is approved by the House of Representatives.

"Our research focus is to build rapid real time detection of improvised explosive devices so we will have a system that is out with our soldiers in Iraq," said Dr. Robyn Hannigan, ASU Associate Professor of Chemistry, "It will go out ahead of convoys, go out ahead of the soldiers to make sure that the roads and the towns are clear of explosive devices.  So we are going to be saving soldier's lives."

A reassuring thought to a community that just deployed nearly 400 soldiers to fight the war on terror.  ASU has received the continuous funding the past three years...and if they get the money again, much of it will go to salaries and building instrumentation.

"One of the things that all of this investment has done has broadened our reputation and our ability to get things done because we are making very good relationships with key partners in a lot of different areas," said Dr. Elizabeth Hood, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer at ASU.

"What it does for Arkansas and really for Jonesboro is that it provides opportunities for students and faculty to see their technology and their intellectual endeavors actually go out into the market place that provides job opportunities for people in the area," said Dr. Hannigan, "Ultimately it provides recognition for all the efforts of Jonesboro and puts us on the map in terms of what we are able to provide the country."

Faculty and student researchers hope to spend the next year testing their prototype systems and hope the product will be in the field with soldiers within 18 months after that.

"We are working as fast as we possibly can because every day we lose American soldiers and we want that to stop," said Dr. Hannigan.

Senators Lincoln and Pryor also secured $1 million dollars to establish a U.S. production base at Wolverine World Wide for high-performance boots for use by all special war fighters.