The Micron Foundation’s gift of $25 million — the largest it has ever made — covers nearly half the cost of the $55 million center in Boise State’s materials science program, which started in 2002.
The Center for Materials Research, to be located next to BSU’s engineering building at the corner of University Drive and Manitou Avenue, will house a 250-seat lecture hall, a pair of 85-seat classrooms, and research space for use by professors and students from materials science and other sciences.
Micron’s donation is one in a string of gifts the company and its foundation has made to launch Boise State’s materials science program, which now has 177 students.
“BSU has a fantastic program in already,” Mark Durcan, Micron Technology CEO and board member, told the Idaho Statesman. “Having a world-class facility to support them, I think, will make a difference in terms of really allowing them to up their game. We just think it is a great place to invest.”
Boise State’s center will benefit Micron, too. “We are a big manufacturing company and what we build are very advanced, nano-scale semiconductos, and there is a lot materials science involved in that,” Durcan said.
Q &A: A LOOK AT THE PROJECT
Didn’t Durcan just reduce his salary by 50 percent because of a sluggish chip market? How can the company afford to do this?
The donation was made by the Micron Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Micron Technology Inc. Foundation funds come from an endowment it received from Micron and are separate from what the company receives through the sale of its products, Durcan said.
What has Micron done for the program previously?
Micron gave $2 million in 2003 to launch the program at Boise State and $13 million in 2012 to start a doctorate program. The program has 18 faculty and its research expenditures exceed $3 million annually.
How will this new program help the economy?
“This is going to serve the needs of the Idaho tech economy,” said Bob Kustra, BSU’s president. “If you go over to our facilities now — as small as they are — you’ll see evidence of industry and university partners ... working together. This building will enhance those opportunities.” Graduates receive a degree in materials science and engineering.
What difference will it make to Boise State?
Materials science could direct more students to the university, said Kustra.
“It is going to allow us to attract a high-caliber science and engineering student to Boise State’s College of Engineering,” Kustra told the Statesman. “In Idaho, if you go back 25 years, a good number of our students were leaving ... because they didn’t think we had the academic heft that you might find in Oregon, Oregon State and the University of Washington.”
The Micron gift and new building will “make us a top-tier materials department,” said Amy Moll, College of Engineering dean.
Will the center mean new faculty jobs?
Not immediately. That could happen as the program’s enrollment increases, said Moll.
What do students say?
State-of-the-art facilities “complement and enhance” the classroom experience and mean “greater collaboration between research groups,” said Brittany Cannon, a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering
How do the costs break down?
In addition to Micron’s contribution, Boise State is raising $5 million (it has $1.1 million now) and plans to sell construction bonds for the rest of the $55 million.
Who pays for the bonds?
Students do, through a strategic facilities fee. The current fee is $288 per semester for full-time students, up from $25 a semester when the fee began in 2006. Boise State won’t increase the fee to pay for the materials sciences center, said Stacy Pearson, vice president of finance and administration.
Boise State will seek planning and design approval from the State Board of Education at its meeting in Lewiston on Thursday. It will undergo at least two other approvals from the State Board as the school moves toward construction, which it hopes to begin in 2017.