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Donors, State invest $8 mn to fund Advanced Fiber Center at Clemson
Nov '08
Generous private gifts and a state match have raised a total of $8 million to establish the Advanced Fiber-based Materials Center of Economic Excellence at Clemson University.

The Center of Economic Excellence is the nexus for a community of scholars and entrepreneurs with shared interests and expertise in natural and synthetic polymer-based advanced fibrous materials and will work in partnership with Clemson's National Science Foundation-created Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films. The CoEE will be home to the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation Endowed Chair in Advanced Fiber-based Materials.

Researchers will work to develop advanced synthetic polymers and to enhance natural fibrous materials, including wool, cotton and silk. Other studies will focus on fiber-reinforced composite materials based on metals, ceramics and polymers for high-performance — yet lightweight — applications in automotive, space, athletic equipment and medical prosthetic markets.

“Our generous donors have helped the School of Materials Science and Engineering achieve a milestone that will have tremendous educational and economic impact,” said director Kathleen Richardson. “We are very grateful for their investment, as the benefits will extend far beyond Clemson and the state of South Carolina. Participation by such a diverse range of fiber-based companies and private individuals in this initiative shows the strength of this community and an admirable willingness to work together to retool and retrain the knowledge base that exists across fiber disciplines within the state.”

“This truly partners Clemson's long-time strength in fiber-based materials with existing industry strength in this important area,” said Clemson President James F. Barker. “There is no field of research in which Clemson University has a longer and more significant history than that of fiber-based materials.”

Industrial partners and individuals established endowments and made investments that total $4 million to support the research and educational activities in the Advanced Fiber-Based Materials Research Center.

Those donors include: the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation: $2.9 million (announced in 2005); KENTWOOL: $500,000; and Brian and Amanda Morin: $250,000. Additional donors include: Mettler Toledo; Inman-Riverdale Foundation; Carey Jordan and Brian Simmons; X-Rite Inc.; Mr. and Mrs. H. Jack McCall; the estate of Elizabeth F. Rivers; Glen Raven; Alfred W. Thomas III, president, Frankl & Thomas Inc., and two anonymous donors.

“Our company is honored to support the Advanced Fiber-based Materials Center of Economic Excellence, which in turn supports the fiber industry in our region,” said KENTWOOL President and CEO Mark Kent. “We believe our unique partnership in innovation and education with Clemson University will support sustainable economic development strategies in South Carolina, and our corporate vision to become the premier wool innovation and manufacturing company in the world.”

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