It was an honor and a privilege to join officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Port of Seattle representatives and Alaska Airlines and other aviation industry leaders at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday to celebrate creation of a new FAA Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment.

Washington State University, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will lead the national center, after successfully competing in a months-long evaluation process. Dr. Ralph Cavalieri, WSU associate vice president for alternative energy, led the development of our proposal, and I congratulate him and his team on their success.

Headquartered at WSU Tri-Cities and utilizing our significant research capacity in Pullman and across the state, the new center will receive up to $40 million over the next 10 years to conduct research that lessens the environmental impact and carbon footprint of the national and international aviation industry. This research is critical for the success of the industry as it faces increased regulation in these areas in various parts of the world, including European Union and Australia. Washington state is an aerospace state, and the health of the industry is critical to the economic health of our state.

The center will leverage the expertise of WSU researchers as well as those at MIT and 14 other universities across the United States. In addition, more than 50 public and private stakeholder partners, ranging from aircraft manufacturers to national laboratories, will help identify the industry needs that will shape the center’s research priorities. Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Delta Airlines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the National Bioenergy Center, Rolls Royce, the Department of Defense, Pratt-and Whitney and Weyerhaeuser are just a sampling of the industry and research partners in the center. Their participation will help to keep the work of the center focused on real-world issues with true impact for the global aviation industry.

And therein lies the beauty of this center. Universities, government agencies and industry pulled together to create the proposal. Political representatives from both sides of the aisle pulled together to support it; in fact, all of the members of Washington State’s congressional delegation signed a joint letter of support – and I thank them for that.

Synergy, collaboration and partnership made the WSU-led proposal for the new center unique and competitive. Synergy, collaboration and partnership will make it effective and productive in the future.