MTU Great Lakes Research Center

Michigan Tech is about to realize its great potential to investigate Great Lakes environmental issues.

Constrcution will start on the waterfront soon for the school’s long-awaited Great Lakes Research Center.

The university hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the center this morning.

Some of professor emeritus Bob Baillon’s students created the idea for the center in 2004 as part of a class project.

Baillon says where the university once turned its back on Lake Superior, he’s pleased that MTU seems to be turning around and embracing it.

Faculty surveys uncovered the same thing that the students found: a general impression around the campus that Michigan Tech was ignoring the waterfront.

Lake Superior Ecosystem Research Center director Charles Kerfoot says he helped Baillon flesh out the students’ ideas and get them ready for presentation to the Board of Control.

The center will play host to interdisciplinary research on a wide range of Great Lakes issues, including the effects of global climate change and invasive plants and animals.

MTU has never been able to interact with the water like this before.

President Dr. Glenn Mroz says the American Society of Electrical Engineers recently came out with a report saying that within 10 years or so, water will become the country’s next great power source.

He says that kind of change means the university has to adapt, and with the work the center will do, MTU will be riding the crest of that wave.

Mroz praised State Rep Mike Lahti of Hancock for his work securing state funding for the center.

Lansing is covering about 75% of the $25 million price tag; MTU will pay the rest.

Lahti says he’s excited about this because it’s an example of what can happen when the state invests in the Public 15 — creation of new jobs that Michigan has never had.

He says MTU has received more than $5 million in research grants just on word that the center will be built soon.

If the construction schedule holds up, the center will be finished in 18 months to 2 years.