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President Obama announces new hub at N.C State before major speech on NSA reform

President Obama announced that a new innovation hub would be built in Raleigh at N.C State.
President Obama announced that a new innovation hub would be built in Raleigh at N.C State.
John Curtis Smith

President Obama visited North Carolina State University announcing a major plan that will use Raleigh as a technology hub at N.C State. The President says that America’s newest high-tech manufacturing hub will be based in Raleigh. Similar to the hub in Youngstown, Ohio. The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is bringing together companies, universities and federal research together. The people at the new hub in Raleigh will develop wide bandgap semiconductors which use nearly 90% less power and can operate at higher temperatures than regular semiconductors.

The project which will receive $140 Million in funding, with $70 Million coming from the Department of energy.

The tech hub isn’t the only new thing being built on Centennial campus. News reports indicate that the NSA plans on building a $60 Million dollar data center on N.C State’s Centennial Campus as well. The President’s visit to N.C State comes just days before he is supposed to give a major speech on reforming the NSA which has gained controversy after the leaks revealed from former contractor Edward Snowden, indicate that the NSA is monitoring the communications of American citizens.

President Obama also said that, “Companies like Cisco and IBM, come to this school when they’re looking to hire because of the quality of the engineering program. And over at Centennial Campus, some very smart people experiment in state-of-the-art facilities to figure out everything from how to design better fireproof fabrics to how to better protect our computer systems.”

Which implies that the innovation hub on Centennial Campus could have a connection with the NSA data center. It has also been reported that companies such as Cisco have their own concerns with the measures used by the National Security Agency. While IBM has been accused of co-operating with the NSA recently. But when N.C State’s Chancellor Woodson was asked whether or not the two facilities were connected, he denied the allegation. Saying that the new hub is a separate project.

While the hub is a separate project, the budget for both of the facilities combined is close to nearly a quarter of a Billion dollars at $200 Million. With such a large budget one would expect a large number of jobs to be created for the people in Raleigh and Durham. But it has yet to be announced just how many jobs will be created by this measure. Or if local residents will be considered above other talent.
Meaning that while the announcement succeeds at putting Raleigh in the national spotlight. Highlighting how far the city has come since the dark days of the recession. The real impact of ending unemployment in the triangle area has yet to seen from this.

Republican Governor Pat McCrory was one of the unexpected attendees of the event. Greeting President Obama upon his arrival at RDU. The Governor spoke with the President about getting approval from the White House to begin the process of “energy exploration” off North Carolina’s coast. The Governor says that the State supports the President’s initiative at N.C State and will provide over $10 Million in funding over five years.

Governor McCrory visited Facebook HQ in California several months ago and was asked by the media if he had learned anything from his trip about how technology innovation can be brought here. In response to this the Governor said that, “I got a lot of great input on that, and we've got to do a better job of selling entrepreneurship, converting some of our grants into patents and we also have to sell some of our universities including the private one’s such as Duke which has offices in California.”

The first innovation manufacturing hub was built in Youngstown, Ohio and while America has made progress in building more tech hubs, President Obama says that Germany has almost 60 hubs similar to the one in Ohio. Adding that, “I don’t want the next big job-creating discovery, the research and technology to be in Germany or China or Japan. I want it to be right here in the United States of America. I want it to be right here in North Carolina.”

President Obama gave a major speech on NSA reform today with many leaders of the intelligence community in attendance. Including NSA Director General Alexander and CIA Director John Brennan. The President tried to please both the supporters and detractors of the NSA's controversial policies. While saying that some of the programs have kept America safer, the President also mentioned the dark history of how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was spied on for years by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. And how invading the personal lives of American citizens is not something the NSA should be doing. President Obama also said that, "Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power" But the President would not offer clemency to Snowden. And would not compare Snowden's actions to those of Paul Revere.

Much has been said in the business world about the NSA scandal. suggesting that Start ups, companies and Entrepreneurs who want to invest and expand into a foreign market should raise concern over the NSA scandal. As strong economies such as Brazil, Germany and their E.U counterparts have said that the scandal has shaken their trust in American companies. Making it hard for the person who wants to expand their venture if the foreign country feels like they are being spied on.

One piece of advice that those in the tech industry could use from this whole ordeal comes from none other than Randi Zuckerberg. Mark Zuckerberg's sister and a supporter of Facebook since it's inception. Who says that, "Making people feel like they are under surveillance is one of the worst things you can do to stifle innovation." Which can hurt cities like Raleigh who want to compete with Silicon Valley.

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