July 24, 2012

Partners in nanotech


Source: Daily Gazette

Partnerships are all the rage today, a way to do more at a time when needs are high and resources are scarce. And as partnerships go, they don’t get any better than the one announced last week that will bring nanotechnology’s benefits, both current and future, to downtown Albany.

As anyone who has driven past Fuller Road on I-90 recently knows, the UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Technology (nanoscience involves the use of very small materials) is expanding. That’s good for the Capital Region as a whole, but the school’s location far from downtown limits its benefits to the city of Albany.

This is about to change. The NanoCollege, which has received generous state funding, will partner with two other entities — one a private company, the other a not-for-profit agency — to improve the vitality of downtown, its infrastructure, and its residents’ lives.

One of those partners is the Colonie-based engineering firm CHA, more commonly known as Clough Harbour & Associates. Both will lease space in the beautiful old Union Station, which has been vacant the last two years. CHA will move its headquarters and 30 of its top executives there, while the NanoCollege will hold courses and training programs there for students from the inner city.

Those students will come via the third partner, Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, an Albany-based nonprofit social services organization that is building a new $5 million academic campus in the South End with the goal of educating minorities and preparing them for jobs. In this case, the jobs would be related to nanotechnology, a field most minorities wouldn’t normally consider on their own or be prepared for without special training.

The NanoCollege will supply CHA with recent graduates, interns and resources to turn research into technological advances. And the focus would be on making Albany a “smart city,” using nanotechnology — such things as sensors and computer chips — to improve highway conditions, infrastructure, bridges, utilities, etc.

The partnerships will create 150 new jobs and $15 million in direct investment. Just as important, they will bring nanoscience, now on the periphery of the city, physically and intellectually, right into the middle of it. Kudos to all involved.