March 24, 2013

Editorial: SUNY scores a huge coup


---- — News that the State University of New York may soon create its 65th campus — the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering — is welcome in that it confirms what we’ve all been hearing for a number of years: that this groundbreaking institution is enjoying runaway success.

The college has been part of the University at Albany.

Nanoscale science and engineering are terms applied to a growing field that transcends popular knowledge. It has been around, in one form or another, for a little more than 50 years but is taking off in recent years.

Scientists began realizing that, as they could observe atomic structures, they could actually influence them — control them, alter them and even re-create them. The results may not yet be fully known, but, in lay terms, one of the benefits might be to create new, better and more useful materials by changing their atomic makeup.

Understandably, this is an entire new realm of science with unlimited possibilities — educationally, commercially, industrially and socially.

Then-Gov. Mario Cuomo was among the first important politicians to recognize the potential for leading the inquiries into this vast, uncharted field. Thanks to his enterprise, the University at Albany has now become the center of America’s entry into nanotechnology.

The UAlbany is the largest and perhaps the most advanced center for learning and development, in partnership with industrial giants such as IBM, Intel, Samsung and Toshiba.

Drive past the Nanotech complex at Washington Avenue and Fuller Road in Albany, and you’ll be impressed at the sight of an ultra-modern series of buildings that clearly are beyond conventional academic pursuits.

Up and down the eastern border of New York state, from New York City to Plattsburgh, communities are trying to find ways to take advantage of their proximity to this burgeoning, infant science.

The current proposal to make the college its own entity “calls for a two-phase approach to create a ‘freestanding SUNY specialized’ college’ with its own budget that would award doctoral degrees,” according to a news release.

“The new college would have its own president and 13-member Board of Trustees, with the University at Albany considered a ‘partner campus.’”

The initiative would probably have little effect on the North Country, except as an opportunity for many of its brightest science students to pave the way for an exciting and lucrative career. But it portends enormous prospects for SUNY, which, either directly or indirectly, benefits us all.

The acronym CNSE may not mean much to most of us now. But in the coming days, months and years, it will be known throughout the scientific world.

SUNY has scored a coup, and we will all profit from it.