ARC Takes College High-Tech (William & Mary News)

The newly dedicated $18.4-million Applied Research Center.

ARC Takes College High-Tech

Facility provides new research, educational opportunities for applied science program

Declaring that "the best is yet to come," Gov. James Gilmore on Monday dedicated the Applied Research Center (ARC) in Newport News, a facility that is the embodiment of high-tech collaboration in economic development among William and Mary and Old Dominion, Christopher Newport and Norfolk State universities.

"What seemed impossible only four years ago is within our grasp," said President Timothy Sullivan, who praised the unprecedented cooperation among the four institutions, the City of Newport News and the Commonwealth in remarks at the dedication.

Speaking to more than 200 leaders from the peninsula and around the state, Sullivan predicted that the 121,000-sq.-ft., seven-story facility would eventually spawn a Nobel Prize winner, as well as play a major role in the development of the "New Dominion"-a state whose economy is based on the widespread expansion of high-technology businesses.

With the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility at its center, the Oyster Point region of Newport News has rapidly become a center for the state's burgeoning high-technology industry. In response to this growth, the City of Newport News built the $18.4-million ARC as a venue for academic and industry scientists to work side by side on cutting-edge applied research with the ultimate goal of spurring the development of new high-technology businesses.

A key player in the realization of ARC has been Dennis Manos, CSX Professor of Applied Science, who has been asked to serve as the managing director of the multi-university research partnership at ARC.

Manos, who will coordinate the research efforts of more than 50 scientists, technical staff and graduate students from the four universities, compared ARC to a full-service, regional medical facility that has all the resources necessary to address any of a range of problems that developing high-technology businesses may face.

Affirming the unprecedented alliance among the four public universities, the Commonwealth and the private sector at the ARC dedication were President Timothy Sullivan (left) and Gov. James Gilmore.

Semiconductors and computer chips will be the focus of much of the research undertaken by Manos and his colleagues. They will be specifically developing new, less costly manufacturing processes for industrial materials such as polymers and fibers, work that also involves using the Free Electron Laser located at Jefferson Lab.

From an educational standpoint, Manos said that ARC will provide an ideal setting for aspiring applied scientists to learn about and to pursue cutting-edge research. "It's exciting that our students will have an integral role in determining the future of high technology in Virginia," he said.

In addition to the new opportunities ARC will provide for strengthening the College's Department of Applied Science, the facility lays an additional cornerstone in William and Mary's ongoing push to participate actively in economic development regionally and statewide.

"ARC gives us firm footing on the Jefferson Lab site, which we are confident will be the center of economic development involving high technology in southeastern Virginia," said Stewart Gamage, vice president for public affairs.

"William and Mary's Department of Applied Science and Office of Economic Development played significant roles in converting the ARC from a dream to a reality. The facility should provide opportunities for many faculty members and their students to participate in the technological revolution we're now enjoying."

For Ted Zoller, director of the Office of Economic Development at the College, ARC represents a critical first step in the creation of a 200-acre research park surrounding Jefferson Lab in which William and Mary is also a partner.

The College owns 50 acres of land in the park that could potentially serve as a site for additional research facilities.

"ARC will be our flagship for the planned Jefferson Center for Research and Technology," said Zoller. "The facility will be the heart of technology innovation, which will define the focus of the park."

Also near the ARC is the College's Peninsula Center, a teaching facility that supports the School of Business' evening master's of business administration program.

"We're going to rely a lot on the business school to make our case to industry about ARC's potential in the marketplace," said Manos.

Manos predicted that ARC could eventually rival the acclaimed Research Triangle around the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Silicon Valley and the Route 128 corridor in Boston.

"We're late to the high-technology game and we may not be quite like any of those areas," said Manos. "But we're certainly poised to become a very important national center for research and development in the area of advanced materials and lasers."