Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Project May Boost North Texas into the Big League of Science

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Project May Boost North Texas into the Big League of Science

Article excerpt

DALLAS - The Energy Department's choice of a site 25 miles south of Dallas for the nation's newest federal research laboratory could lift north Texas into the big leagues of international science in the next century.

``It's a tremendous opportunity,'' said Robert Rutford, president of the University of Texas at Dallas. ``We will have some of the world's top-notch physicists coming to Dallas.''

Congress must be persuaded to spend $6 billion on the 53-mile long super collider, and it will take at least until 1996 to build the laboratory.

But business, academic and government leaders in north Texas described the selection of the site in Ellis County as a psychological lift for an area that has struggled for the past few years because of the severe recession in the oil and real estate industries.

``This is a very important event for Texas,'' said Jerry R. Junkins, chairman and chief executive of Texas Instruments Inc., the largest private employer in the region and a major producer of advanced electronics and computer equipment.

Harden Wiedemann, a Dallas businessexecutive who played a central role in the Texas pitch for the super collider, said:

``We have sensed all along that this could be a real turning point for the Texas economy. We have to move beyond the natural-resource economy in the state toward the research and technology that will create jobs in the 21st century.''

The Dallas-Fort Worth area already is considered one of the nation's top producers of military electronics, led by companies such as Texas Instruments and a division of the General Dynamics Corp. that makes the F16 jet fighter in Fort Worth.

It also is a large center for manufacturers of telecommunications equipment. Over all, the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitian area ranks No. 4 in technology related jobs, after Boston, San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles.

But educators and scientists say the area has not been able to fully capitalize on this industrial base in technology because the local colleges and universities have not had advanced science and engineering programs.

These experts said that among the super collider's most important contribution to the region would be to persuading political and community leaders to invest more money in science-oriented programs at Southern Methodist University at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington, which is between Dallas and Fort Dallas, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

``Our university infrastructure certainly is not comparable to what you see in Silicon Valley or in Boston,'' said Blake Cherrington, dean of the two-year-old Eric Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Texas at Dallas. …

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