Mattawan school board approves start of technology upgrade

MATTAWAN, Mich., (Kalamazoo Gazette) Netech Corp., of Grand Rapids, was awarded the $773,056 contract to install computer-network infrastructure linking all buildings and capable of supporting data, voice, video-security and other services. The project also will pave the way for a wireless campus.

“Wireless is in the next major round of equipment purchases,” said Alex Ellingsen, senior technology designer at Secant Technologies. “We are actually starting one layer down the wedding cake with wired infrastructure.”

The board also approved a $120,000 project to update data wiring and electrical service in the district’s 18 wiring closets and add additional cable for 10 computer labs.
“If you ever have a chance to walk back to a wiring closet, which is where all the cables come back, Mattawan is like a lot of facilities: They were not meant to be wiring closets,” Ellingsen said.

“Modern buildings design wiring closets into their plans. But these (wiring closets in Mattawan schools) are (former) custodial closets, book-storing rooms or furnace rooms. So we’ve been using those spaces, but they are not secure or environmentally clean, and they don’t have their own power.”

The board also heard presentations about two other projects. Project 2209 involves the installation of a battery backup for the computer network equipment and equipment to support a move to a Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system.

The board also approved the hiring of Quentin Solis as a part-time English teacher at Mattawan High School. Solis moved to the area in 2004 after teaching high school English in Iowa. He has recently worked as a substitute teacher in Mattawan and at Lake Michigan College.

Other business included approving a short-term loan of $1.75 million to borrow against anticipated state aid. The loan is to pay for the cost of beginning the new school year.

MPI Research co-hosting cell-based therapy summit

MATTAWAN, Mich., (Kalamazoo, Gazette) MPI Research of Mattawan will hold its second annual educational summit this month to bring together scientists and academics who are working on cell-based therapies.

MPI, a preclinical contract research organization, and Wisconsin-based WiCell Research Institute, the home of the national stem-cell bank, are co-sponsoring the summit, set for Aug. 15 through 17 at Brook Lodge in Augusta.

The focus is “Advances in Therapeutic Discovery and Drug Development: Preclinical Cell-Based Therapy Research.”

“It’s a collaborative educational summit to bring a cross-representation of the folks in the industry that are working on the therapies, and academics as well, to get everyone talking so that they can learn from each other and best advance these sorts of therapies in an expeditious fashion,” said Allen J. Rogers, director of marketing at MPI Research.

Fifteen experts from industry, regulatory agencies and academia will talk about recent advances in therapeutic areas related to cardiology, neurology, endocrinology and oncology. The summit also will feature presentations on cell imaging, preclinical study design and regulatory considerations, among other issues.

“We make learning and innovation a top priority in our company,” summit facilitator Jia En Chin, director of drug-discovery services at MPI Research, said in a statement. “Our annual summit provides a forum for scientists from the private and public sectors as well as universities to share perspectives and learn about key developments in their field. It is a dynamic, exciting environment.”

The summit’s smaller setting is unique. Instead of involving hundreds of people, the summit is open to 85 to 90 people, including approximately 40 from Michigan, Rogers said.

“There are similar sorts of forums around the country that we are competing with, but what we are trying to provide here is an intimate venue with some world-renown experts that really allow them to talk to each other and collaborate,” Rogers said.

“I think there is a certain degree of excitement about the summit,” he said. “There is a lot of excitement overall in the scientific community with respect to the potential of stem-cell therapies.”

For more information about the summit, go online to