May 18, 2011
By: by Tatiana Zarnowski, Reporter, Daily Gazette
WASHINGTON - Sensors that alert soldiers to unexploded ordnance, information about dangers in the field that go directly to soldiers and lighter night vision goggles could be a reality in the future because of future nanoscience inventions.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, wants to make sure U.S. troops have access to the newest technology that could keep them safe and comfortable and introduced an amendment to the House Defense Authorization Act to study establishing a research and development center in nanotechnology.
Some of the high-tech applications exist now, but aren't easy for soldiers to use.
"They're oftentimes very expensive and they're very power-consuming, so they're not as easy to deploy or as useful in the field," said Michael Fancher, vice president for business development and economic outreach for the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany. "A lot of it is the combination of sensor data to give the soldier the same information that his commanding officers would have."
Coating on materials, robotics and high-tech map displays are other applications for technology that would help troops and allow them to react to dangers faster.
"When you think about Congressman Gibson's career, he knows firsthand what the soldier in the field really needs," Fancher said. Gibson retired from the Army last year as a colonel and was deployed to combat zones several times during his military career.
"We really see it as being very visionary and very proactive in recognizing the capabilities and resources here."
Gibson's amendment would name a federally funded research and development center and fund it with $7 million. The college in Albany would be welcome to apply for the designation and funding, said Gibson spokeswoman Stephanie Valle.
The amendment will be considered with the rest of the defense bill next week when Congress reconvenes. The defense bill is for the 2012 fiscal year, and the House Armed Services Committee, of which Gibson is a member, adopted it Wednesday. The annual bill sets military policy and funding.
If the University at Albany's CNSE was named the research and development center, it would provide jobs in Gibson's district, Valle said.
"The congressman has toured the SUNY facility and has been very impressed by the work that they do," she said. "I think he thinks that's something that they would be extraordinarily competitive in."
Gibson also introduced amendments to create a national Yellow Ribbon Day, name "Taps" the national song of remembrance and commission a study to determine if the Special Operations Command should be reorganized to better fight al-Qaida.