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University at Albany Unveils New $180M Emerging Tech Complex

The University at Albany this week held a ribbon-cutting for its Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex, which houses programs such as atmospheric sciences, emergency services and homeland security.

University at Albany.jpg
University at Albany
(TNS) — When Preston Paige was at Schalmont High School in Rotterdam trying to figure out where he should go to college, he toured the University at Albany.

Paige was interested in UAlbany's Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, a nationally known program for weather and climate research and forecasting that has long had a partnership with the National Weather Service.

When Paige visited UAlbany, he was especially impressed with plans for a new $180 million, 246,000-square-foot academic complex the school was building at the Harriman State Office Complex located next the UAlbany's uptown campus.

The building was the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex, or ETEC.

The building was going to house the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and the National Weather Service's Albany office under one roof, along with the headquarters for the state's Mesonet weather prediction system and UAlbany's new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. It is home to 800 students and more than 200 staff, including researchers and faculty and was built to be highly energy efficient, using solar panels and geothermal wells.

On Wednesday, Paige was invited to speak during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for ETEC presided over by UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez.

Simply put, Paige said the university's vision for ETEC made a big impression on him.

"This ultimately played a large role in why I chose to enroll at UAlbany," Paige said.

And Paige, now a junior, has taken full advantage of that vision, taking on dual majors in atmospheric sciences and emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity. He's also done internships with the state's Mesonet weather forecasting service and the state's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

That's exactly the type of interdisciplinary study that UAlbany officials imagined when they included plans for ETEC in its application to the state's NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant program launched a decade ago to provide $35 million in new construction funds to the state's four research universities.

In addition to housing the university's technology transfer, commercialization and small business development centers, ETEC was seen as a place where two of the school's most innovative programs — atmospheric sciences and emergency services and homeland security — could come together and leverage their synergies.

The vision is based on the idea that being able to better understand and predict severe weather events and climate change are closely tied to deploying emergency management services and ultimately homeland security, which is expected to play a larger role in the future dealing with the geopolitical pressures and "existential threats" of climate change.

"We have created the infrastructure to fulfill that vision," Rodríguez said.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said that cities also have a stake in studying how extreme weather impacts different neighborhoods and how utilities and emergency management services can be deployed more equitably during electrical outages, which have a more severe financial impact on poorer households with things like food spoilage.

"The work you are doing here is critically important," Sheehan said. "You are in a living laboratory."

©2021 the Times Union (Albany, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.