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MSU breaks ground on advanced nuclear science project

Using one of the lowest-tech tools – shovels – officials broke ground today on what will someday be one of the most advanced centers for scientific research in the world. 

Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation joined Michigan State University officials and others in breaking near-frozen ground for what will be the Facility of Rare Isotope Beams.

The facility, known as FRIB, will allow scientists to experiment with nuclear elements that do not normally exist on Earth.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon says this is a great day, not only for the East Lansing campus and Michigan, but for science. 

“We’re celebrating the groundbreaking of the next generation of leadership in a vital role of science,” said Simon.

Once it’s completed around 2022, FRIB is expected to open the doors for major discoveries in medicine and other fields of science.

FRIB is expected to create hundreds of jobs on and off the East Lansing campus. 

Most of the project’s $730 million price tag is being picked up by the federal government. 

Michael Knotek is the deputy undersecretary for science and energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.

He says FRIB will make MSU “one of the hubs” to serve the scientific community. 

“It’s a very important thing to be a part of, “ says Knotek. “You are now the leaders for this very special community of nuclear scientists who are going to unlock secrets that are going to amaze us all.”

The ground may be broken, but the project still faces years of government budget battles.

FRIB received $55 million in this year’s federal budget. President Obama has asked for another $90 million in this year’s budget. The state of Michigan and Michigan State University have also committed to spend tens of millions of dollars on FRIB.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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