August 27, 2013
Source: Daily Gazette
We’re still not sure whether the split between UAlbany and the College
of Nanosciences and Engineering (starting next year the college will
become its own independent campus within the SUNY system) was necessary —
or necessarily a good thing. But we have no such doubts about the
college’s purchase of Kiernan Plaza, a landmark building in downtown
Albany, for use as a hub for “Smart Cities” technologies. We think
that’s a great thing.
The nanosciences college is a major
success, credited with attracting millions of private research dollars,
numerous high-tech companies, and the GlobalFoundries chip manufacturing
plant to the region. But, like the college itself, which sits on
UAlbany’s uptown campus, many of those jobs, and the people who hold
them, are outside the region’s cities. Physically as well as
academically, it’s a thing apart.
In the kind of deal that can
give collaboration a good name, the nanocollege is now casting its eyes
and innovative powers toward downtown Albany. Last week, with the help
of a $3 million state grant that came through Gov. Cuomo’s competitive
regional economic development council process, it purchased Kiernan
Plaza, the beautifully restored old Union Station that has been vacant
since 2009. There it will establish a center for research in Smart
Cities technologies, which use such things as sensors and computer chips
to improve traffic flow, highway conditions, infrastructure, bridges,
utilities, etc. Downtown Albany will be a laboratory for research and a
model for new products and systems.
The nanocollege will partner
with a major tenant, the Colonie-based engineering firm Clough Harbour
& Associates, which will move its headquarters and 30 top
executives to the center. The college will supply the company with
recent graduates, interns and resources to turn research into
technological advances. Two other partners will be Trinity Alliance of
the Capital Region and Girls Inc., which will provide education and work
force training programs for young people from the inner cities, who are
traditionally underrepresented in the science and engineering fields.
venture is expected to create 150 new jobs and generate millions in
investment, while improving the vitality of downtown, its infrastructure
and its residents’ lives. Congratulations and kudos to all involved.