U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is touring parts of his district this week. That included a stop at Northern Illinois University on Tuesday.
The 16th District Republican visited a new lab that recently opened at NIU. Officials hope the hands-on experience for students and researchers will prepare people for labs like Batavia’s Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL.
Kinzinger is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He said he wanted to meet people who interact with federal funding and STEM programs.
"You deal with things from a macro level, from an, 'Okay, we got a three trillion dollar budget how do we expend that money?' What's essential to do is to come back and see where that moneys being spent on," he said.
He said there are security benefits to supporting technological research.
"And frankly from a national security perspective, the more people we have that can go into those industries, obviously we have more researchers for better technologies and everything else."
Kinzinger said that he’d like to see the state government financially support local universities and resources that could encourage more students to enter STEM careers.
NIU vice president for research and innovation partnerships, Gerald Blazey, says it’s important that the federal government sees who benefits from investing in research.
“It takes discipline and constant reminders of politicians and the people that establish policy that this is an important investment you need to make," Blazey said.
Blazey said the new lab in La Tourette Hall holds unique research equipment. He said new machines will be added annually for at least the next five years.
Kinzinger also visited DeKalb's municipal airport and met with Mayor Jerry Smith.
Smith said he'd like to see regional investment in the airport in order to support economic and physical growth. He said he'd like to see a more collaborative approach to funding expansion that includes the federal government and neighboring partners.
"The city of DeKalb now, because it is a municipal airport, we really pay all the bills there," said Smith.
Smith said he'd also like to change the airport's federal designation to encourage more traffic. Smith said that change could bring more passenger planes to the runway. As of right now, airport use is only permitted for up to 30-passenger aircraft, including cargo and freight planes.
Later this week, Kinzinger is scheduled to attend two community discussions regarding opioid use, in Rockford and Will County. “It's a huge problem in our generation and in our time," he said.
"I think the thing we can do best is provide to people, provide to communities, some of the resources or programs to battle this at the local level," said Kinzinger.
Kinzinger is also visiting Rochelle, Dixon, and Mendota.