March 30 2017

Where Albany ranks for college and university engineering R&D space

Albany Business Review

By: Shannon Sweeney

The Albany area ranked seventh nationally for available engineering research and development space at colleges and universities, above cities like San Francisco and State College, Pennsylvania.

Four colleges and universities — SUNY Polytechnic Institute, the University at Albany, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College — combined for a total of 711,000 square feet of space for fiscal year 2015. The rankings come from the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, which analyzed data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

Albany fell behind the Atlanta, Boston and Baltimore metro areas, which took the top three spots.

Colleges and universities in this area are emphasizing their engineering programs. UAlbany and Union College are expanding their programs, and Rensselaer consistently ranks nationally for engineering.

Jonathan Dordick, vice president for research at Rensselaer, said there is a lot of state, federal and university investment into educational programs and facilities that support engineering opportunities.

“Given all of that, I’m not surprised we’re in the top 10,” Dordick said. “That is an example of real economic growth here.”

Rensselaer has the region’s largest engineering program, and has 205,000 square feet of engineering research and development space. Some examples of research include biotechnology, advanced manufacturing and clean energy. The School of Engineering has seven departments that offer 11 undergraduate degrees and 18 graduate degrees.

Investments in engineering research help attract more students and businesses to the area, Dordick said.

“It goes way beyond how many square feet you have,” he said. “It’s what you do with that and how you attract the best and brightest in terms of the people and the industries that come to the area.”

Engineering R&D space at local colleges and universities

The square footage of engineering research and development space in the area will continue to grow.

UAlbany is in the process of securing $60 million in funding for its new College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It will be housed in a 127,000-square-foot building on Western Avenue and will have classrooms, research space and offices.

Union College in Schenectady is also planning a $100 million project to expand and renovate its Science and Engineering Center. It’s the biggest project in school history.

The finished project will include 142,000 square feet of space with classrooms, laboratories and collaborative learning spaces.

Ashraf Ghaly, the director of engineering at Union, said the new space will enhance the college’s ability to attract more students, as well as bring more attention to the area.

“This will not just put Union on the map as one of the best institutions, but it will put Schenectady as a place where people can come and get a good education and a degree that will open many doors for their careers,” Ghaly said.

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