January 18, 2007

$250,000 Boost To Nanotechnology Education

By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer, Times Union


ALBANY -- KeyBank N.A. is giving $250,000 to the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering to launch a new community education program.

Called NEXSTEP, it will educate high school students and people in the community about nanotechnology, which is the driving force behind efforts to make computer chips and other technologies smaller and more powerful.

NEXSTEP stands for Nanotechnology Explorations for Science, Training and Education Promotion.

Economic development officials have been stressing the need to educate and train students and workers to staff what they believe will be a steady flow of nanotechnology companies to the region, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

In June, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD said it plans to build a $3.2 billion computer chip factory in Malta. The "chip fab," as it is called, would employ 1,200 people and create thousands of additional construction and high-tech jobs.

"We all need to understand it better," said Michael Orsino, president of KeyBank's Capital Region operations. "We all have a responsibility to get the word out."

The money, which will come from both KeyBank and its Key Foundation, will be given to the college over a five-year period.

KeyBank, a unit of Cleveland, Ohio-based KeyCorp, is the second-largest bank in the Capital Region with 40 branches and $3.5 billion in local deposits. It has financed construction projects at Albany NanoTech, and also wants to participate in the region's nanotechnology future, which includes AMD's chip fab.

"We would love to be a part of that project up in Saratoga County," Orsino said.

Orsino was introduced at a Tuesday morning news conference by Alain Kaloyeros, chief administrative officer of the college. For years, Kaloyeros has been organizing educational tours and seminars at the college for local students and teachers.

Last month, the college announced plans to train semiconductor manufacturing students from Hudson Valley Community College in its labs and clean-room facilities.

Kaloyeros said the KeyBank program will help educate a nanotech-savvy work force that will "attract additional global technology companies to the region."

NEXSTEP will be run by the college's economics department, also known as its NanoEconomics Constellation.

In addition to work force education and training for high school and community college students, NEXSTEP will create daylong nanoeconomics seminars for regional leaders and business executives, as well as a nanoeconomics speakers series that will bring well-known economics and business leaders to Albany NanoTech.