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Published on February 21, 2002
© 2002- The Press Democrat


Sonoma State University has received $1 million in equipment from Agilent Technologies to establish a lightwave laboratory as part of the university's new master's program in computing and engineering science.

The laboratory will be named after Agilent Technologies and is one of eight teaching and research labs being constructed in the Salazar Hall engineering-science complex.

``What we are doing is building a center for research and education in high-technology fields,'' said Saeid Rahimi, dean of the School of Science and Technology. ``The equipment will be forming a basis for research and development that can be used for a variety of purposes, including helping local companies to develop products, software and perhaps instruments.''

The Agilent lightwave equipment is built at the Santa Rosa Airport Boulevard facility and the test-and-measurement instruments are from other Agilent divisions, and are the same as those used by optical and telecommunications companies worldwide, said Dave Bass, manager of the Agilent lightwave division.

``These are the standard tools used by any designer of telecommunications,'' Bass said. ``They will see these when they take their first jobs, when they get out into the real world.''

The Agilent gift brings to $8 million the equipment and donations given to SSU's new master's program.

Three weeks ago, the university received a prestigious $400,000 award from the W.M. Keck Foundation for microanalysis microscopes for what will be the Keck Laboratory.

In the past two years the university has also received $1 million from JDS Uniphase, owner of Optical Coating Laboratory Inc.; $1.1 million from Advanced Fibre Communications, and $4 million from six engineers who were principals in Cerent, which became Cisco.

The university's master's program, which was formed at the urging of Agilent and a number of high-tech companies that make up Sonoma County's Telecom Valley, began last fall with 35 students.

Next fall, it will move into Salazar Hall, which is undergoing a $20.1 million renovation to house the labs and classrooms for the undergraduate and graduate science programs and the Cotati-Rohnert Park Technology High School.

The laboratories will include photonics, lightwave communications, networking, microanalysis, electronics, broadband and wireless communications, computer science, and human-computer interaction.

``This is going to be a facility that I believe has no parallel in the California State University system,'' Rahimi said.

The Agilent laboratory will include 40 pieces of general-purpose test-and-measurement equipment used in the world of photonics and optoelectronics, which is central to technology being developed for telecommunications.

And it will be as much for research as for educating the next generation of telecom engineers.

``One of the visions of the lab is to allow many people, not only students, but people from other universities and businesses, to make measurements on the next-generation telecommunications equipment,'' said Kenn Wildnauer, Agilent business technology manager.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or PHOTO: 1 by SCOTT MANCHESTER / The Press Democrat
Kalouna Boumanda of Agilent Technologies in Santa Rosa tests equipment that will be in a new lab at Sonoma State University. Agilent is donating $1 million in equipment to establish the lab.

Major donations to the SSU computer and engineering science programs:

Agilent Technologies, $1 million

W.M. Keck Foundation, $400,000

JDS Uniphase, $1 million

Advanced Fibre Communications, $1.1 million

Four former engineers and founders of Cerent, now Cisco Systems in Petaluma, $4 million

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