ECC wants to dip into nanotech studies

January 31, 2014 Updated Jan 31, 2014 at 8:24 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Business First

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January 31, 2014 Updated Jan 31, 2014 at 8:24 AM EDT


Erie Community College is developing a nanotechnology program designed to serve the Riverbend campus in South Buffalo, a project that will get off the ground with $215 million in state funding, among other local initiatives.

The college will partner with Genesee Community College and is in talks to include Jamestown Community College, as well.

ECC has simultaneously applied for a $5.7 million SUNY 2020 challenge grant that will allow it to purchase high-tech equipment and renovate space for the program, which would be taught at its Buffalo and Amherst campuses.

Under the proposal, GCC and possibly JCC will offer their own nanotechnology programs, with introductory courses on their campuses in Batavia (GCC) and Jamestown and Olean (JCC). For more advanced instruction and lab work, they will use ECC's proposed high-tech facilities.

The State University of New York and state Education Department must still approve the new degree program, and the grant has not yet been awarded, but ECC officials are confident program offerings could begin this fall.

"It's the training for the workers before the go to Riverbend," ECC President Jack Quinn said of the program.

The seeds of the program were planted when high-ranking ECC officials, including Richard Washousky, executive vice president of academic affairs, visited the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany this summer.

They came back from the trip resolved to claim a stake in the growing nanotechnology industry. ECC faculty were sent to Penn State University for high-level training in nanotechnology while an academic program was being developed.

Then, in December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Buffalo to announce what has been formally titled the Buffalo High-Tech Manufacturing Innovation Hub at Riverbend. The announcement is a direct descendant of the nanotechnology model in Albany, which has leveraged CSNE resources to spin off roughly 15,000 nanotechnology jobs.

ECC officials took notice.

"We said, 'nanotech is coming," Washousky said. "We've got to be part of it in Western New York."

The ECC degree in nanotechnology would require from 60 to 64 credits, including a capstone course and an internship. ECC is also working on articulation agreements with the University at Buffalo and Nanoscale college in Albany for students who wish to pursue further education.

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