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Albany Chosen as Research Center by Sematech

Articles in The New York Times and the Albany Times Union confirm that International Sematech, a consortium of microelectronic manufacturing companies, has chosen to locate a new $403 million semiconductor research facility at the State University of New York at Albany. The Times Union says that the center will initially be located at the a soon-to-be-completed building at the Center for Environmental Studies and Technology Management on the SUNY campus. A ceremony will take place at 10:30am today to announce the official selection.

The New York Times article focuses more on the potential regional economic impact of the announcement, including its importance to RPI:

... Despite the weak economy and a slumping technology sector, state and industry officials, as well as people who follow the industry, say the project could draw investments worth several times the cost of the project to the region.

The only other such center created by the computer chip consortium, International Sematech, was built in the late 1980's in another state capital and college town, Austin, Tex. Over the next decade, Austin became one of the best places to be in the high-tech world....

Austin's great advantage, he said, was a a large, first-rate engineering school at the University of Texas that supplied a steady stream of professors and graduates to high-tech industries. It remains to be seen whether SUNY and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in nearby Troy, can be a similar source of talent.

Those of us who were on campus in the mid to late 1980s will remember the intense work that Rensselaer faculty did to try to attract the Sematech facility that was ultimately located in Austin. Sematech actually built their Austin facility at the beginning of the last recession, and the massive semiconductor industry growth in that area took place in spite of somewhat difficult economic conditions.

It's hard to believe that growth of a similar magnitude could occur in Albany as has already occured in Austin. For one thing, Albany doesn't have a company like Dell Computer, which was in its infancy in Austin in 1988. But, the establishment of International Sematech North is likely to do more to create a high tech economy in the Capital District than all of the effort on locally-based entrepreneurship to date.

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The Rensselaer Club of New Jersey (RCNJ) is a regional chapter of the Rensselaer Alumni Association that serves the State of New Jersey.

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For more information, contact Sandeep Nandy, RCNJ President, by email at sandeep.nandy [at] verizon.com.
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