Funding sought for major research projects

Commerce – Texas A&M University-Commerce is being considered for more than $1 million in congressional appropriations, thanks to Congressman Ralph Hall's inclusion of two university research projects in the U.S. House of Representatives FY10 annual appropriations bills.

According to university president Dr. Dan Jones, these appropriations will be an opportunity for the university as well as a promise that the region's leaders are focused on our continued growth and success.

"Congressman Hall has been a staunch supporter of A&M-Commerce for many years, and his assistance during the current session of Congress has been nothing short of extraordinary," Jones said. "Congressman Hall has been instrumental in helping us secure much-needed funding that will improve the educational experience of A&M-Commerce students, and will also support the advancement of our research mission."

The projects under consideration include the Advanced Artificial Science and Engineering Research Infrastructure project headed by computer science professor Dr. Sam Saffer, and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) project headed by Dr. Kerri O'Connor at A&M-Commerce. Appropriations for both projects were passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in July. Final federal funding for the project will be determined once the House bill is conferenced with the Senate this fall.

"We are very excited about the funding," O'Connor said. "It's wonderful to have the support of The A&M System and Congressman Hall. These programs have impacted more than 500 students and teachers in rural northeast Texas schools, and we want to keep this project going as long as possible."

Appropriations awarded to the Advanced Artificial Science and Engineering Research Infrastructure program will be used to create a virtual computing environment that students can use to create, test, and analyze various computational science models. The computing environment will be made available to other universities and industries, expanding its usefulness and impact.

"Funding for these projects will have a tremendous impact on research at our university," said Dr. Allan Headley, dean of graduate studies and research at A&M-Commerce. "They will help us carry out innovative research in artificial intelligence and also help us understand the factors that influence students to become scientists. We will be better equipped to attract and train larger numbers of students so that they can pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math."

"The university would not be what it is today, nor would it be in a strong position to realize its potential, without Congressman Ralph Hall's help," Jones said. "He is a true friend to A&M-Commerce."