May 1 2017
Education/Training,Manufacturing,Nanotechnology,Research & Development

Capital Region Becomes a Hotbed for Materials Engineering

Albany Has One of Nation’s Highest Concentrations of Material Engineers, is No. 1 for University Materials & Metallurgical R&D

With the continued growth of the semiconductor industry, the Capital Region has become a magnet for materials engineers. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA) now has the nation’s 8th highest concentration of materials engineers among metros that employed 100 or more of these highly skilled workers in 2016, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of new U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA last year had an estimated 280 materials engineers, resulting in a concentration of 0.625 materials engineers per 1,000 workers and a 3.27 employment location quotient, which compares “the concentration of an industry within a specific area to the concentration of that industry nationwide,” according to BLS. For both of these job concentration-related metrics, the area ranked eighth among metros with large populations (>100) of materials engineers. The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA ranked 21st for the number of materials engineers employed, beating the 22nd-ranked Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell and 23rd-ranked Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis MSAs. Last year, the median annual salary for a materials engineer in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA was $79,560.

87/90 Semiconductor Summit

Materials engineers are playing an important role in the Capital Region’s semiconductor industry, which CEG will showcase at its first-ever 87/90 Semiconductor Summit on June 8 at the Saratoga Springs City Center. Hundreds of local business leaders are expected to attend this event to hear about economic forecasts for the industry, its newest technologies and what they can do to promote and engage its growth in the Capital Region. Speakers will include:

  • Howard Zemsky, President and CEO, ESDC
  • Hugh Johnson, Partner, Hugh Johnson Advisors
  • Jim Feldhan, President, Semico Research
  • Rich Goldman, Silicon Catalyst Partner and Chancellor of Global Technology University 
  • Tom Salmon, Executive Director, Fab Owners Association 

The 87/90 Semiconductor Summit is open to the public. Register online here.

Materials Engineering Degrees

Materials engineers develop, process and test advanced materials such as semiconductors for electronic circuits and composites for the aerospace, automobile and medical device industries.  Each year, dozens of students graduate from Capital Region schools with materials engineering degrees. In the 2014-2015 school year, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute awarded 26 bachelor’s degrees in this field, three master’s degrees and 14 doctorates, according to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Database System (IPEDs). SUNY Polytechnic’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) also awarded a handful of similar nanoscale engineering degrees.

Out of 43 MSAs with institutions that awarded materials engineering bachelor’s degrees in the 2014-2015 school year, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA ranked 19th. Out of the 51 MSAs with institutions awarding doctor’s degrees in this field, the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA ranked 17th – tying the Austin-Round Rock MSA, according to a CEG analysis of the IPEDS data.

Materials Engineering R&D

Helping drive demand for materials engineers in the Capital Region has been significant public and private investments in materials and metallurgical engineering research and development (R&D) at SUNY Poly and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In 2015, these institutions spent $290.6 and $4.8 million on this type of engineering R&D, respectively, giving the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA a total of $295.4 million.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA was the nation’s leading spender on university materials and metallurgical engineering R&D. In fact, it outspent the next seven biggest spending MSAs for this field, according to a CEG analysis of data from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES).


With all that R&D, it is not surprising that the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA has emerged as the nation’s No. 2 generator of semiconductor device manufacturing process patents with local first-named investors, according to a CEG analysis of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) data. In 2015, 183 of these patents were awarded to area inventors, compared to 54 five years earlier.


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