Gregory Boebinger: Senate investment in MagLab keeps world-class facility on cutting edge

Swirl-Particle-Physics-Concept
This investment in the National MagLab is money well spent.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, proudly headquartered at Florida State University, has been the world’s premier magnet lab for more than two decades. With support from the State of Florida and the National Science Foundation, MagLab scientists are tackling issues Floridians are most concerned about — from diversifying our energy portfolio and improving our domestic supply of critical manufacturing materials to protecting our beautiful wetlands, forests, beaches and communities.

Our work to understand magnetic and superconducting materials will lead to revolutionary magnet technology like more powerful permanent magnets and next-generation MRI machines. High-magnetic fields are unlocking the secrets of quantum materials — work that will build the technologies of tomorrow.

The critical equipment that supplies electrical power to the National MagLab’s FSU site is almost 30 years old and at the end of its lifespan. This affects the reliability of the electrical power to the lab, putting its research and specialized equipment at risk.

The lab’s continued international leadership in magnet technology depends on making infrastructure upgrades today.

We thank the Florida Senate for appropriating $8.3 million dollars in its initial budget, which funds 100% of our budget request for these vital electrical updates. Senate President Wilton Simpson, along with other Senate leaders, recently visited the lab and we welcomed the opportunity to discuss the depth and quality of discoveries that high-magnetic field research can deliver. We discussed the need to preserve our place as leaders in this arena, which means we need new electric switchgear.

This critical equipment feeds the 56 million watts of electrical power coming into the lab.

This investment in the National MagLab is money well spent. A recent report from the FSU Center for Economic Forecasting estimates that for every dollar invested by the state, the MagLab is returning more than $6.40 in economic output.

Annually, the lab generates $325 million in Florida and more than 2,680 jobs. As we look to the future, the lab is projected to generate $6.5 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years.

The MagLab is a high-tech hub, employing more than 500 Floridians and serving as a training ground for the next generation of Florida’s STEM researchers and industry leaders with programs for postdoctoral, graduate, undergraduate and K-12 students.

It also serves as an incubator for high-tech business development and entrepreneurship, facilitating spin-offs in the Tallahassee area and encouraging dozens of other commercialization or small business opportunities.

We greatly appreciate the Florida Senate for their ongoing support of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

We look forward to following the budget process and continuing to gather legislative support for this investment in preserving our state’s global leadership in high-magnetic field research and technologies.

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Gregory Boebinger is director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

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