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Energy research is focus of Binghamton 2020 plan


By Andrew Carden
Staff writer

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Representatives from Binghamton University last week showcased their plans for a $70 million, state-of-the-art “Smart Energy” research facility. Photo by courtesy of Binghamton University.

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Legislators listened to testimonies regarding the benefits of raising minimum wage, specifically a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Keith Wright, during a public hearing held in Harlem. If Wright’s bill is enacted, New York state’s minimum wage will be raised from the current level $7.25 to $8.50 and then indexed to adjust to inflation each year. Photo by AP.
April 30, 2012
Representatives from Binghamton University last week delivered a presentation before Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, highlighting the impacts the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant Program has had on the institution.

The initial phase of the NYSUNY 2020 initiative awards $35 million capital construction challenge grants to SUNY's four university centers in Binghamton, Albany, Buffalo and Stony Brook upon approval of long-term academic enrichment and economic development plans.

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Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Gov. Andrew Cuomo lavished praise on Binghamton University for its plan to build a $70 million “Smart Energy” research facility. Photo by courtesy of the Governor’s Office.
With assistance from the NYSUNY 2020 grant, Binghamton University has announced plans for a $70 million, state-of-the-art "Smart Energy" research facility and an increase in faculty and professional and support staff by more than 300 members. The institution plans to bolster its student body by 2,000, while improving its student-to-faculty ratio from 21 to 1 to 19 to 1.

Binghamton University has also committed $700,000 from additional tuition revenue it receives to ensure affordability for TAP-eligible undergraduates and an additional $900,000 to support graduate students, scholarships for undergraduate students and the Educational Opportunity Program. Over the next five years, more than $12 million, or 25 percent of all revenues from the enacted rational tuition plan, will be used for student access.

Under the institution's plans, Binghamton University estimates its economic impact on the region will increase $77.5 million annually and lead to the creation of more than 840 new jobs over the next five years. The University projects its overall impact on New York state will reach $1 billion by 2017.

Harvey Stenger, Binghamton University president, said these plans mark the "capstone" of a decade's worth of efforts to bolster campus research facilities and create an infrastructure for them. "The Smart Energy building will support innovative research that will generate new partnerships with business," Stenger said. "The plan will significantly boost the region's economy, providing both short and long-term benefits."

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The Smart Energy facility will house research programs in several areas of alternative energy research, including energy storage, energy efficiency in electronic systems, sensor development for energy resource management and solar and thermoelectric energy harvesting.

"This critical research will help New York remain a leader in cost-effective, renewable energy production," said Bahgat Sammakia, interim vice president for research at Binghamton University. "We estimate that Binghamton's research in the energy arena will increase by 20 to 30 percent in the first five years after the facility's completion."

The governor lavished praise on Binghamton University's efforts, saying educating people is the "number one priority" of New York state and "SUNY does it extraordinarily well."

"We have the best academic institutions in the country," said Cuomo. "We've passed a lot of legislation over the past year and a half and now we're finally seeing the fruits of it."

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