Sharp applauds Legislature for Capital Projects Funding Support

The Texas A&M University System News Release

Total more than $727 million for Texas A&M universities; $300 million for TDEM

 BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Generations of Texans are poised to benefit from action by the Texas Legislature Tuesday to fund $3.35 billion in specific capital projects for Texas higher education institutions.

Capital projects at universities of The Texas A&M University System would total $727.4 million under SB52. That is 22 percent of the total authorization.

Separately, the Legislature appropriated $300 million in federal COVID relief funds to build a new state operations center in Austin for the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM,) one of eight state agencies overseen by The Texas A&M System. 

The COVID-related appropriations bill, SB8, also invests $20 million toward supporting at-risk students at the state’s regional universities, including those associated with the A&M System.

Both bills now go to Governor Greg Abbott for approval.

Chancellor John Sharp thanked Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Sen. Brandon Creighton, Sen. Jane Nelson and Rep. Greg Bonnen for their leadership and all of the members of the House and Senate who supported the legislation.

“We are gratified by the confidence the Legislature shows in The Texas A&M System to be good stewards of tax dollars,” Sharp said.  “We will continue to earn that trust as we serve the students and citizens of this great state.”

The Chancellor also thanked Abbott for including higher education in the third special session this fall. SB52 is the first legislation since 2015 to tackle a comprehensive list of capital projects for the state’s public colleges and universities.

The Texas A&M System educates more than 150,000 students, about half of them attend one of 10 regional universities throughout Texas — from A&M Texarkana to Texas A&M International in Laredo, and from West Texas A&M in Canyon to A&M Corpus Christi.

  • Funding for capital projects in SB52 include:
  • Prairie View A&M: $45 million  
  • Tarleton State-Stephenville: $65 million
  • Tarleton State- Ft. Worth: $25 million
  • A&M Central Texas: $45 million
  • A&M Corpus Christi: $45 million 
  • A&M Kingsville: $45 million
  • A&M San Antonio: $45 million
  • A&M International: $45 million
  • West Texas A&M: $45 million
  • A&M Commerce: $45 million
  • A&M Texarkana: $45 million
  • A&M HSC-McAllen: $30 million
  • A&M Galveston: $34 million
  • Texas A&M College-Station: $56 million
  • Texas A&M System-RELLIS: $43 million

 The legislation also includes $70 million for each of three public institutions who helped start the new biomedical research campus at the Texas Medical Center in Houston: The Texas A&M Health Science Center, the University of Texas Health Science Center and University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

In College Station, the $56 million would fund a new clinical teaching and research complex for A&M’s veterinary medicine program, where class sizes have grown dramatically to address the need for veterinarians across the state. The funding will allow for replacement of the small animal teaching hospital

The separate proposal for $300 million in COVID relief funding for TDEM would put disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation under one roof. 

The current State Emergency Operations Center (SOC), built in the 1950s, is considered outdated, too small, and without the high-tech capabilities to manage state-level emergency management operations.  Texas has more federal disaster declarations than any other state and coordinates 3,000 to 4,000 local incidents each year.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

Bush Combat Development Complex receives $96.2M Army research contract

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — On Sept. 30, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) transitioned from the $65 million cooperative agreement awarded in 2019 to an up to $96.2 million, five-year contract from the U.S. Army for its George H.W. Bush Combat Development Complex (BCDC) to continue research and technology development in support of critical military modernization priorities through 2026.

The contract proposal, titled “High-Impact Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation,” is focused on continued innovation in five technology areas:

  1. Laser Diagnostics for Hypersonics and Directed Energy
  2. Rapid Design of Hypersonic Vehicles
  3. Materials for Extreme Environments
  4. Coordinated Air-Ground Vehicle Maneuvering
  5. Resilient Real-time Network Architectures for Autonomous Vehicle Communications

The contract agreement between the Army and TEES authorizes up to $96.2 million in research expenditures and allows for research efforts that may also be of interest to other government agencies/organizations.
The approach for research conducted by subject matter experts at BCDC supports multi-disciplinary engineering research, coupled with The Texas A&M University System’s cutting-edge facilities at its RELLIS Campus, and demonstrates how TEES is proving itself as a committed partner in military modernization efforts.

“Over the past two years, our strategic partnership with Army Futures Command has proven valuable as we work together on solutions for Army modernization research priorities,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M University president and vice chancellor for national security initiatives. “Our vision for BCDC has become a reality and we are proud to collaborate with the Army to protect our nation, both now and into the future.”

TEES established BCDC in 2019 through a three-part investment of more than $200 million between the Army Futures Command, with $65 million for research and research equipment; the Texas Legislature, with $50 million for instrumentation of a test-bed known as the Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) as well as a Ballistic-Aero optic and Materials (BAM) hypersonic test-range; and the Texas A&M System, for capital construction of a facility known as the Research Integration Center.

The Research Integration Center, commonly known as the RIC, serves as the headquarters for BCDC and as a research facility primarily designed for developing and evaluating autonomous systems. The RIC was completed last month (within two years of its groundbreaking). Construction is well underway for the IPG (to be fully operational by fall 2022) and an initial stage of the BAM (to be complete by spring 2023). Together, this ecosystem of researchers and facilities is becoming one of the top state-of-the-art national security-related research and testing organizations in the U.S.

“We are pleased with the confidence that Army shows in the Texas A&M System,” Chancellor John Sharp said. “This contract illustrates that we are well on the way to deliver a world-class testing complex, which will accelerate military innovation for generations to come.”

Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-17) applauded the new contract. “I am proud of Chancellor Sharp and President Banks for working with the Department of Defense to bring these federal dollars home to develop hypersonic systems and networked autonomous vehicles for the U.S. Army at the RELLIS Campus in Bryan,” Sessions said. “I am fully supportive as the university expands its capacity to provide our U.S. military with important technologies that also will boost industrial and economic development here in the 17th Congressional District of Texas.”

Points of Contact:
BCDC Patrick Seiber
Public Relations Director
pseiber@tamu.edu
(979) 317-1310 (o)
(979) 255-8981 (m)

TEES Amy Halbert
Assistant Director of Communications
ahalbert@tamu.edu
(979) 458-4243 (o)

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
 
Contact: Mike Reilly
Office of Marketing Communications
Texas A&M University System
mreilly@tamus.edu
Office: 979-458-6492
Cell: 402-679-0456

Texas A&M System’s TV Show Premieres in State’s Biggest Markets

The Texas A&M University System News Release

New Episodes of “Around Texas With Chancellor John Sharp” Begin This Week

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The TV show Around Texas With Chancellor John Sharp is going statewide.

The second season of the show that features the leader of The Texas A&M University System will be broadcast in the largest markets in Texas – and some of the smaller ones, too – beginning this month.

The show will be aired on commercial stations in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley. It can also be seen on PBS affiliates in the markets of Bryan-College Station, Waco, Corpus Christi and Amarillo.

“More Texans than ever will get a chance to see our show and meet the people of the Texas A&M System,” Chancellor Sharp said. “The stories of these remarkable folks are sure to inspire viewers, make them laugh and warm their hearts.”

Each of the 12 episodes of Around Texas With Chancellor John Sharp runs about 30 minutes and includes two segments and two in-studio interviews conducted by Chancellor Sharp.

Season Two of the show will feature several segments including those on: Harley-riding police officers; a research facility in Kingsville that contains hundreds of venomous snakes; the story of how one of the service dogs of Texas A&M Task Force One was discovered at an animal shelter; and much more.

Listings and full episodes also will be available to stream online at www.sharparoundtexas.com.

Statewide Broadcast Schedule for “Around Texas With Chancellor John Sharp”

Bryan/College Station

Thursdays @ 7 p.m.

KAMU

Waco

Thursdays @ 7 p.m.

KAMU

San Antonio

Saturdays @ 5 a.m.

WAOI

Austin

Saturdays @ 5 a.m.

Fox 7

Dallas-Fort Worth

Saturdays @ 5 a.m.

WFAA

Houston

Saturdays @ 5 a.m.

KTRK

Corpus Christi

Sundays @ 1 p.m.

KEDT

Rio Grande Valley

Sundays @ 11:30 a.m.

KRGV 5.1

Somos El Valle

Saturdays @ 3:30 p.m.

KRGV 5.3

Panhandle PBS

Sundays @ 4:30 p.m.

KACV

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

Buildings to be lit up in blue at all 13 Texas A&M University System campuses for World Teachers’ Day

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Blue lights will once again shine bright on Texas A&M University System campuses across the state Tuesday in recognition of World Teachers’ Day. The 11 universities in the A&M System, the RELLIS Campus in Bryan and the Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) will illuminate a total of 30 iconic buildings and landmarks.

“We hope everyone takes notice and thinks about how critical teachers were not only to their own lives, but also to our collective future,” said Elaine Mendoza, of the Texas A&M System Board of Regents. “The Texas A&M University System is proud to graduate more fully-certified teachers than any public university system in Texas and, most importantly, recognizes educator preparation as one of the most significant contributions we can make to our great state.”

World Teachers’ Day was conceived by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 1994. The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements and draw attention to the voices of teachers who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.

Graduates from education colleges at Texas A&M University System campuses are highly sought-after because they are so well prepared, said Chancellor John Sharp.

“Our graduates are sought after by school districts all across Texas because they know our students are getting the tools they need to be ready on Day One in the classroom,” Chancellor Sharp said. “We prepare teachers to be able to make the world a better place, one child at a time.”

The theme for this year’s World Teachers’ Day is “Teachers at the heart of education recovery.” All 11 universities in the Texas A&M System will, via social media and other online efforts, be encouraging their communities to consider the contributions teachers have made to provide remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools and ensure learning gaps are mitigated.

The buildings and landmarks to be illuminated in blue are:

  • The Performing Arts Center, the three fountains in Garvin Lake, Talbot Hall and Memorial Stadium at Texas A&M University-Commerce;
  • The Jack K. Williams Administration Building, the Harrington Education Center, Albritton Bell Tower and the dome of the Academic Building at Texas A&M University;
  • Trailblazer Tower, the Vergara Planetarium and the front of Killam Library at Texas A&M International University;
  • College Hall and the Leaders of the Pack statue at Texas A&M University-Kingsville;
  • The Building for Academic and Student Services at Texas A&M University-Texarkana;
  • The Momentum Wave at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi;
  • The tower of Founders Hall at Texas A&M University-Central Texas;
  • The Clock Tower in the Central Quad area at the Texas A&M Galveston campus;
  • The Original Texans sculpture and the Haywood Spirit Tower on the Charles K. and Barbara Kerr Vaughn Pedestrian Mall, and The Eternal Flame monument in Victory Circle at West Texas A&M University;
  • The Smokestack at Tarleton State University;
  • The Wilhelmina R.F. Delco Building and John B. Coleman Library at Prairie View A&M University;
  • The Torre de Esperanza, the fountain at the intersection of University and Jaguar Way and the Central Academic Building at Texas A&M University-San Antonio;
  • The top floor of the Texas A&M Health Dental Clinic and Education Building in Dallas;
  • The Health Professionals Education Building and Medical Research & Education Building at Texas A&M Health in Bryan;
  • The Texas A&M Health Discovery Tower and EnMed Building in Houston;
  • And the entrance to The Texas A&M University System’s RELLIS Campus in Bryan

Visit https://www.facebook.com/tamusystem on Facebook or Twitter to see them all lit up in blue.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.

Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu

California Utility Expands Use of Texas A&M Wildfire Prevention System

The Texas A&M University System News Release

PG&E engineers call outage prediction tool ‘fundamental’ to reducing risk

BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The threat of catastrophic wildfires has led California investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to significantly expand its use of a tool developed at Texas A&M University that helps stop fires before they start.

The tool is called Distribution Fault Anticipation (DFA). It’s a unique hardware and software system that detects circuit anomalies, notifying utility operators to address issues before they cause power outages or spark fires.

Two veteran PG&E engineers, Eric Schoenman and John Mead, highlighted the utility’s growing use of DFA in an article last month titled New Tools in the Fight to Reduce Wildfire Ignition. It was published in T&D World, a leading utility industry magazine.

In 2019, PG&E installed DFA on seven circuits to evaluate its effectiveness. Based on the results, the utility is adding DFA to 50 circuits in 2021 and anticipates adding 600 circuits over the next three years.

Priority will be given to circuits in the areas most vulnerable to wildfires. Nearly one-third of PG&E electric lines are in state-designated high fire-threat zones.

“DFA detects low-current events that conventional systems do not detect,” Schoenman and Mead wrote. “The fundamental key to addressing these phenomena is knowledge that they are occurring, knowledge that DFA can in many cases provide.” 

The Texas A&M team of engineers that developed DFA is led by Distinguished Professor Dr. B. Don Russell and Research Professor Carl L. Benner, both of Texas A&M’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The team has worked closely with PG&E engineers on integrating DFA with the utility’s other equipment, including other types of risk reduction tools.

“We’re proud to make a positive difference in a region of the country that is so vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires,” Russell said.

The expansion at PG&E is the latest example of utilities turning to DFA. The system also is being used by Southern California Edison and a number of utilities in Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Mid-South Synergy Electric Co-op in Texas, which operates in small towns and rural areas southeast of College Station, is placing DFA on all of its circuits.

“It’s a great system,” General Manager Kerry Kelton said. “We have miles and miles of exposed feeder lines across pastures that are not easy to inspect directly. DFA gives us the intelligence we need to prevent many outages. It can help us every day.”

Electrical power outages commonly are caused by falling tree branches, errant animals or failures of devices such as clamps, switches, conductors and connectors.

The conditions can build up over weeks or months, impacting electrical currents in small ways before actual failures. DFA monitors currents and applies algorithms to detect and report abnormalities for investigation and repair.

Until now, utilities have had little choice but to wait and react to actual failures. Operators recognize that something better is needed, given the growing threat of wildfires.

“DFA gives operators real-time awareness of the health of their system,” Benner said. “While nothing will ever prevent all outages, DFA can increase reliability for a utility’s customers and reduce ignition risks.”

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
 
Contact: Mike ReillyOffice of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6492
(402) 679-0456 cell
mreilly@tamus.edu

Major improvements set for Easterwood Airport

The Texas A&M University System News Release

BRYAN/ COLLEGE-STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University System is set to begin nearly $5.9 million worth of work to make Easterwood Airport safer.

The work will realign one of the airport’s main taxiways, Taxiway Alpha, to support large aircraft. The taxiway is currently too close to an aircraft parking apron for large aircraft to use. The project will also allow for more aircraft parking. The work will be paid for by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and is expected to begin in January.

The population in the Bryan-College Station area has grown at an unprecedented rate — 12-percent — since 2016 and it’s important that Easterwood keep up.

“Bryan-College Station is a growing community with endless potential on the horizon. The Easterwood Airport project will restructure operations to allow for bigger and better commercial air service that will have substantial economic benefits,” said Congressman Pete Sessions. “Our vibrant community deserves to have an airport that matches the quality of its people and capacity to adapt to the area’s rapid advancements. I greatly look forward to seeing Central Texans’ lives enhanced by this endeavor.”

The $5.9 million grant is part of $766 million the FAA recently awarded to build safer, more sustainable and more accessible airports across the nation. The federal government has waived the usual 10-percent local match thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“This project is essential to the continued growth of commercial air service to Aggieland,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “We appreciate everything our senators did to ensure Easterwood’s continued growth.”

Easterwood Airport, just minutes from Texas A&M University, is owned by The Texas A&M University System. Easterwood’s current passenger numbers are up 184 percent from 2020. Easterwood’s quick pandemic rebound has led to the growth of its commercial service which currently has more daily flights than in 2019.

About The Texas A&M University System

The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $9.6 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 153,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
Contact: Laylan Copelin
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communications
(979) 458-6425
(512) 289-2782 cell
lcopelin@tamus.edu