CHESS Director Joel Brock, left, takes Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on a tour of the new construction at the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source during an event Jan. 17 to mark the conclusion of the $15 million upgrade project, known as CHESS-U.

Lt. governor returns to proclaim CHESS upgrade complete

Fourteen months ago, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul came to the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) to announce a $15 million grant from the New York State Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

The URI funding was for an upgrade project – dubbed “CHESS-U” – which would arm CHESS with enhanced X-ray capabilities, keeping it a leading synchrotron source in the U.S. The project was also expected to create dozens of jobs, both at Cornell and across the region.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during the CHESS-U completion event at Wilson Laboratory, the home of CHESS.

On Jan. 17, Hochul returned to Wilson Laboratory, the home of CHESS, to proclaim the project complete in an event that drew local lawmakers, stakeholders from Cornell, and representatives from several local and regional manufacturers whose contributions were on display during a short tour of the new experiment hutches and other equipment.

There is still some work to be done related to the project, and the linear accelerator and synchrotron beams – which were turned off for CHESS-U on June 4, 2018 – aren’t scheduled to be turned back on until Jan. 23.

Cornell impacting New York State

The event marked the official end of the construction project, for which crews worked double shifts over the final six months of 2018 in order to minimize downtime. In addition, wall and ceiling segments for most of the new experiment hutches were built off-sight at Advanced Design Consulting of Lansing and shipped to CHESS for installation.

Beamlines will gradually be recommissioned in the coming months.

Among the attendees were town of Ithaca Supervisor Bill Goodman, Tompkins County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson ’75, and Sarah Clark, deputy state director in the office of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“To be back on this campus … it’s so inspiring to me,” Hochul said. “It’s a place of innovation and a place of creativity, and that legacy continues from its inception all the way to today.”

Hochul pointed not only to the CHESS-U project but also to Cornell Tech as examples of the positive impact Cornell is having on New York state. She noted that over the course of her lifetime, New York has become a desired destination for college graduates looking for good jobs.

“People who were graduating and leaving the state are now staying, and the difference is, we finally now have jobs to offer them,” she said. “The challenge our businesses have is finding people with the skills and the training they need. That’s one we can solve, and that’s an important role that Cornell plays, educating the next generation of scientists and researchers and engineers.”

Hochul was followed at the podium by Joel Brock, director of CHESS, who began his remarks by noting some of the achievements it has produced over the past 40-plus years. “Research at CHESS has resulted in two Nobel Prizes, a promising new treatment for AIDS, completely new types of long-lasting batteries, more efficient fuel injectors for your car, and stronger, lighter materials for airplane wings.”

He noted that CHESS is part of a very small club, and that the upgrade “keeps us as one of the five leading facilities in the world.”

During the course of the $15 million upgrade, he said, CHESS hired an additional 66 workers. Brock added that in addition to the jobs created at the lab, approximately $9 million of the state’s URI funding was spent on materials and equipment from the Southern Tier and across New York state.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul gives a recap of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State Address Jan. 17 in Stocking Hall.

Several of the project’s manufacturing partners were at the completion event, to see the fruits of their labor.

“It’s neat, as a manufacturing company in the Southern Tier, to see how the parts that we make come together in such a high-tech way,” said Chris Goll, president and CEO of Cameron Manufacturing & Design, a custom metal fabrication firm from Horseheads. “And then couple that with the interest of Cornell to try and use a lot of the New York manufacturers, just made for a great relationship. We were grateful to be a part of it.”

Benny Teitelbaum, Ithaca branch manager of Friedman Electric, which supplied most of the big switch assemblies and other ancillary electrical equipment, noted that his company was part of a larger network of regional companies that aided in Friedman’s contribution to CHESS-U.

“I could name probably 15 vendor partners that we’re a distributor for that supplied a lot of the components,” he said. “It’s much more than just our company.”

Following the CHESS-U ceremony and tour at Wilson Lab, Hochul held a State of the State recap event at Stocking Hall.

Watch how a machinist in upstate New York found his calling–and his community. It's just one example of how Cornell is fueling job creation across the state.

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Gillian Smith