Officials to break ground on cutting-edge international physics lab

Project will allow U of M faculty and students to work with experts from around the world on important research

novaTwo U.S. congressmen and top ranking officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, University of Minnesota, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will break ground on May 1 for a new NuMI Off-Axis Electron Neutrino Appearance (NOvA) detector facility, the future home of the world's most advanced neutrino experiment. The construction site is located near the Ash River about 40 miles southeast of International Falls, Minn.

Speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony include Minnesota Eighth District Congressman James Oberstar, Illinois 14th District Congressman Bill Foster, U.S. Department of Energy Associate Director of Science and Nuclear Physics Dennis Kovar, University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks, University Vice President Tim Mulcahy, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Director Pier Oddone, and NOvA Collaboration co-spokesperson Gary Feldman.

The invitation-only groundbreaking event will be followed by a public reception and presentation at 4 p.m. at the American Legion in Orr, Minn., where members of the community can hear the latest updates regarding the new, cutting-edge NOvA laboratory. The reception will include displays of the project and a meet and greet with NOvA collaborators. The public presentation will begin at 5 p.m. and will include an overview of the project, the project schedule and the impact on the local community.

The NOvA Detector Facility is a new international physics laboratory of the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy. Construction of the new cutting-edge detector facility, supported under a $45 million cooperative agreement for research between the Department of Energy and the University of Minnesota, is expected to generate 60 to 80 jobs in the area over the next two years. In addition, the construction will result in procurements for concrete, steel, road-building materials and mechanical, and electrical equipment from U.S. firms.

novasiteThe American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is providing $40.1 million in funding for the project. Fermilab, which manages the project, has committed an additional $9.9 million in stimulus funding to purchasing key high-tech components for the project from U.S. companies, allowing those firms to retain and hire workers.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses will collaborate with approximately 180 scientists and engineers from 28 institutions in seven countries to build a 15,000-ton neutrino detector and install this device in the laboratory. When the new neutrino laboratory is completed, The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will send an intense neutrino beam from Fermilab in Illinois to the NOvA Detector Facility. The project will advance the study of neutrinos, fundamental building blocks of matter that are essential in helping researchers discover how the Universe was formed and how it will develop in the future.

May 1, 2009