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  Wayne State hopes new engineering center speeds research

"We're working on a lot of cross-research ... that saves time and allows us not to repeat the same tests," says professor Gregory W. Auner.

Aug 28, 2005 - Wayne State University President Irvin Reid is embarking on an ambitious plan to elevate the institution's scholastic and research endeavors.

Working with major corporations and entrepreneurs, Reid wants to speed everything from cancer diagnosis and treatment to detection of environmental hazards.

Over the next five years, Wayne State plans to add a $26 million engineering development center at its main campus at Woodward and Warren in Detroit that would accelerate the development of smart sensors that can be used to improve eyesight, hearing and other bodily systems, as well as identify cancer cells before they can spread.

The same smart sensors could also be used in lakes, rivers and the atmosphere to warn of a terrorist attack involving the release of toxins or other hazardous materials.

"Our laboratories are equipped to build the research equipment we need on campus, instead of farming out production to corporations," Reid said. But more room is needed.

During a tour of the 200-acre campus Friday, Reid and several research scientists said more labs, clean rooms and testing facilities are needed to speed up research efforts.

"We're working on a lot of cross-research between medical, automotive and smart sensors that saves time and allows us not to repeat the same tests," said Gregory W. Auner, an engineering professor who works with smart sensors.

The engineering development center is to be completed by the end of the decade. It is one of several campus improvement projects designed to accommodate a student body that is expected to grow from 34,000 students to 40,000 by 2011.

Also planned are a new business school and a medical education center at Wayne State's medical school at the Detroit Medical Center.

This week, the university will open a new 937-bed residence hall for graduate students that will offer high-speed Internet access in every room, dining facilities and street-level space for retailers such as Barnes & Noble and TCBY.

© Detroit News