New York News
6:30 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

CNSE + SUNYIT = SUNY INSET

The Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is positioned to merge with the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica. A new college would be created.  A draft summary of the merger plan, obtained by the Utica Observer-Dispatch, says the new school would be called SUNY Institute for Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology, or SUNY INSET.  Expectations are the merged institution's Marcy facility would provide the Mohawk Valley with the strong, technologically trained workforce it needs to attract more high-end technology companies.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher recommended the plan, saying it set a high bar for what a 21st century entrepreneurial college campus is capable of achieving for its students, communities, the state, and the country.  Back in July, SUNY's Board of Trustees began the process of separating the University at Albany and the Nano College, greenlighting the way for the chancellor to begin looking at a new structure that would include CNSE. 

SUNY Spokesman David Doyle:    "You have two institutions with similar missions that already have extensive, existing partnerships. And this was a very natural evolution to bring these together to really produce what's ultimately going to be a juggernaut in high-tech, polytechnic education, job training, economic development..."

The proposal went before the SUNY Board of Trustees’ Academic Affairs Committee Tuesday.  Doyle says "Many of the trustees spoke openly at this committee meeting about how innovative this plan is and why it makes sense for the SUNY system. And this resolution came out of committee with the unanimous support of the trustees and tomorrow it will be presented to the full board for their consideration."

CNSE CEO Alain Kalyeros
Credit Dave Lucas (WAMC)

January 1st is target date for the merger to become effective.  CNSE CEO Alain Kaloyeros reportedly will become chief executive of the combined institutions. 

There may a bend in the road ahead:  technology advances quickly, and the industry standard for chip-fab may be shifting from the model New York has bet its bankroll on. Some liken it to the 1980s contest for product dominance where VHS tape knocked off rival higher-quality Betamax to capture the home video market.

Speaking on WAMC, associate editor of the Albany Times Union Mike Spain explains why the new development on the global chip manufacturing front could pose a problem for New York's strategy to emerge as the leader of the next generation of developing microchips.    "The story today by our technology writer Larry Rulison is telling how the world's top suppliers to computer chip companies have decided to stop developing new machines for this new generation of computer chips. They would be 450 millimeters in width. Currently, the standard in the industry is about 12 inches or 300 mm wafers and from that all the microchips are cut, In 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo put together a group of five of the largest chip companies to fund a pilot manufacturing line in Albany that uses the larger 400 mm wafers. They have invested committed up to 825 million dollars over five years on the project, but if a major manufacturer of chip equipment is not moving in that direction it could be problems. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out on the global market."

A source speaking on condition of anonymity said ASML of the Netherlands, the company that decided to abandon 450 mm chips, is not even a member of Cuomo's "Global 450 Consortium" Spain referred to — and that there are a number of major companies with major investments pitching in to ensure the 450 mm chip's success.

An official in the Cuomo administration told the Times Union that all five members of the G450C are pushing forward with 450mm development.

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