AUSTIN -- Imagine driving a car with an iPhone.
It's futuristic fantasy made reality at National Instruments in Austin, where video posted to the Internet featuring the creations of young, enthusiastic engineers has gone viral.
"Making sure that making kids know that engineering is an exciting career, something that's going to help solve the world's problems and make a difference is something that we can really do with these types of projects," National Instruments mechanical engineer Doug Farrell told KVUE in August 2010.
Founded in Austin more than 35 years ago, the company employs 6,800 people throughout 47 countries including 2,700 employees in Central Texas. It could soon get a boost in the form of $4.4 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). Created in 2003 with the aim of luring businesses to Texas, the fund came under renewed questioning this month by state lawmakers regarding concerns regarding the amount of jobs actually created and a lack of review by independent auditors.
"Central Texas’ flourishing high tech industry is further strengthened by National Instruments’ expansion, which will create 1,000 technical and engineering jobs and bolster Austin’s status as a hub for research, development and innovation," Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) stated in a press release issued Thursday. "Texas’ continued focus on STEM education is a natural fit and will ensure the Lone Star State continues to provide the capable workforce necessary for high tech employers like National Instruments to thrive."
According to the release, the deal, if completed, would also bring $80 million in capital investment and add a new 300,000 square foot facility at its Northwest Austin campus, which falls in the district of state Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin).
"They're a great civic partner in the community. They give their staff a lot of paid time off for volunteering in local schools teaching kids robotics. They're consistently on that list of hundred best places in America to work. They have great jobs for people, and we've got to produce a great workforce for them," Strama said.
Last March, Apple announced plans for a $304 million expansion expected to add 3,600 jobs in Austin with the help of $21 million from TEF. Along with tech industry anchors Samsung and Dell, Strama says Austin is on a roll.
"Austin's on an unbelievable run," said Strama. "It's unbelieveable what's developing in Austin, and I hope we keep it going. It's great for the citizens. Frankly, it's great for the future of technology to be clustering places outside Silicon Valley where all these smart people think up good thoughts."
A National Instruments spokesperson says the deal will depend on community incentives and isn't complete with a deal expected by early March.