Binghamton University is central to the region’s efforts to identify new industrial and economic opportunities, State Senator Thomas Libous said Monday during a visit to campus to review a number of new projects. “If we don’t build it around the University, we’re never going to build it,” Libous said. “It all starts right here. The University is a tremendous asset for the community.”
Libous was on campus to receive an update on a number of new initiatives, including the Events Center, the Innovative Technologies Complex that will be housed in the former NYSEG building, and research collaborations between local industry and the Watson School’s Integrated Electronics Engineering Center (IEEC). After touring the Events Center, Libous was briefed on the progress of converting the former NYSEG building into a modern research facility and then met with nearly a dozen representatives of local industry who receive research support from University faculty and students.
Libous, who secured a $15 million Gen•NY•sis grant through the state Senate to support development of the ITC, said he is working to get the money released to the campus. The University has completed the design for the center and hopes to begin using the facility by next fall. Libous also said he expects an announcement shortly from the governor’s office on funding for a proposed education center in downtown Binghamton to house University and Broome Community College programs.
During the meeting with industrial leaders at the Watson School, Libous said the IEEC, which is a state-designated Center for Advanced Technology, has played an important role in building relationships among local companies involved in electronics packaging. “The University is a wonderful, fantastic place,” he said. “And that mindset is finally understood in the community. We need to continue to push that in all aspects as we build these relationships.”
Industrial representatives said the center has also been invaluable to both large and small companies in making them competitive. Among the companies represented were IBM, Universal Instruments, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Endicott Interconnect Technologies (EIT), Diamond Visionics and Hidden Valley Electronics.
Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research and director of the IEEC, said the center is shifting its focus from electronics packaging to small-scale systems and is developing new partnerships, including RPI and EIT. The revamped IEEC, which is up for renewal as a state-funded CAT, will also be the basis of the University’s bid to become a Center for Excellence in small scale systems. “The recertification of the CAT is important,” Libous said. “I’ve been supportive and maybe we can take it to that next level next year.”
Ray Fillion of General Electric said the shift to small-scale systems positions the center in the right place at the right time for developing a new technology that has great promise.
Other industry representatives said research work by faculty and students and access to high-tech equipment like reliability testing was crucial to their businesses. “We have been able to leverage university research in ways that have made us competitive,” said Bill Murphy of Lockheed Martin.
James Pitarresi, chair of mechanical engineering, said the contact with industry could help nurture an entrepreneurial spirit in faculty and students that is part of the new economy.