March 29, 2010

Nano Tech, Macro Plans

By: by Larry Rulison, Business Writer, Times Union


BALLSTON SPA -- Look out Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College. The University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is starting its first-ever undergraduate engineering program.

The NanoCollege, at the Albany NanoTech complex on Fuller Road in Albany, will offer a bachelor's degree in nanoscale engineering beginning in the spring of 2011. About 15 students are expected to begin classes at that time.

This is the second undergraduate degree program that the nanotechnology school has started in the past 12 months. The first program, a bachelor of nanoscale science degree, began this spring with 15 students. Previously, the school offered only graduate degrees.

Alain Kaloyeros, chief executive officer of the NanoCollege, announced the new program Friday during a technology and education conference at Ballston Spa High School.

"We've now established an engineering school at Albany," Kaloyeros said.

Kaloyeros was the keynote speaker at STEM 2010 Expo, which brought together more than 1,000 educators and business leaders to talk about science, technology, engineering and math curricula in the region.

Nanotechnology is technology created on the atomic and molecular levels, including computer chip components, sophisticated sensors and medical devices. In his speech, Kaloyeros stressed how important training the future nanotech work force is since the industry is expected to become the largest in the world by 2014 with $2.6 billion in annual revenue.

"It's not a fad, it's not a product, it's science and know-how," Kaloyeros said.

The economic impact that the NanoCollege itself has made on New York state is vast, Kaloyeros said. He said since the school was created in 2001, employing just 71 people, it has been responsible for creating 12,000 nanotechnology jobs in the state, with $1 billion in payroll. By 2015, that number is expected to jump to 25,000 jobs, with $2.75 billion in payroll.

The undergrad programs have been several years in the making, and some of the teaching was tested on students from Albany High School as part of the NanoCollege's NanoHigh program.

Ballston Spa Central School District Superintendent Joseph Dragone was working at Albany High when the courses were tested, and he said Ballston Spa High has sought to teach nanotech courses as well, including a nanoeconomics course. The school has also created other technology courses such as video game development to keep up with quickly-evolving job trends.

"It's adaptable, it's flexible," Dragone said. "It's always exciting."

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