By Alexis Johns | November 22, 2021
The University at Albany unveiled its, now largest, instructional building on its Uptown Campus called the Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC) on Wednesday.
A sidewalk path from UAlbany’s Uptown Campus as well as a shuttle bus service will connect the ETEC building to the main Academic Podium at UAlbany.
After eight years of planning and three years of construction, the ETEC building is now open with a capacity to host more than 220 full-time faculty and researchers, and 100 research and industry partners. The building has 20 different classrooms, teaching labs and other innovative spaces that will have up to 800 students enrolled in courses. Different classrooms include the decision theatre to replicate emergency operation scenarios, campus makerspace, visualization development center, science-on-a-sphere room, weather research map rooms and a glass-enclosed weather observation room.
The building is 245,000 square feet and cost $180 million. ETEC was funded by former New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant, an initiative to enhance educational programs and an incentive for better economic growth.
“Thanks to Governor Cuomo, this partnership exemplifies how public universities can collaborate with state government to leverage their collective expertise to spark private innovation that will strengthen New York’s economy,” said President Havidán Rodríguez.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided $750,000 in incentives for the ETEC building.
"Climate and education are two high priorities for my administration and I am proud of the steps SUNY is taking to minimize their footprint on the environment and create a cleaner, greener future while ensuring an education of a lifetime," said New York Governor Kathy Hochul in a press release.
The building is now home to UAlbany’s first-in-the-nation College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, Weather-Climate Enterprise under the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES), Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, New York State Mesonet, and Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analysis. The building also includes the Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering, and temporarily the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, chemistry labs, business development and technology transfer offices, private business partners, and the National Weather Service’s Albany Forecast office.
Beneath the parking lot, there is a field of geothermal wells that provide heating and cooling through heat pumps. These wells work along with nearby solar panels that are located on the Uptown Campus. By creating this, UAlbany is expected to cut energy costs by nearly 70%.
The chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Ryan Torn said, “We see ETEC as a place where DAES can host small scientific conferences that can showcase UAlbany and the work done here.”
Torn said that long term, he hopes that “ETEC will increase the visibility of our undergraduate and graduate programs and drive new research areas.” Torn also said that he would love to see ETEC provide collaboration opportunities with the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity. With this new building, Torn feels that UAlbany now has “the opportunity to be a world-leader on the intersection between weather and climate extremes and emergency management.”
Innovate 518 and the UAlbany Innovation Incubator now have offices in the new ETEC building. Innovate 518 is a state-funded program that connects different organizations that have the main focus of aiding entrepreneurial efforts. The two entrepreneurs-in-residence, Heidi Knoblauch and Bruce Toyama, offer teaching and resources to startups through the Innovate 518 program and the UAlbany Innovation Incubator.
The UAlbany Innovation Incubator is located on the first floor of the ETEC building and is 2,600 square feet. It is adjacent to a 2,400 square foot space that is anticipated to be leased with different companies interested in partnership opportunities.
The incubator area is home to a weather forecast platform called Virginia-based TruWeather Solutions. Matt Grattan, the Director of Community and Economic Development for UAlbany’s Division for Research, has already signed two different startups. One of the startups does work with monitoring neuro-psycho activity of patients during surgery. “The next phase is just to grow this,” Grattan said.
Grattan is considering other companies for the UAlbany Innovation Incubator. They are mainly going to be focused on areas in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, climate and different types of engineering.