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Hopes, Concerns for E-TEC

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Students, faculty, and staff are voicing both hopeful anticipation and logistical concerns as the construction of the Emerging Technologies and Entrepreneurship Complex nears its second stage.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the project’s planned site last February, describing it as the central location for University at Albany’s new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and the headquarters of the Mesonet, a new weather analysis service.

Plans have been announced to move both the College of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and the physics department onto the 12-acre site being built on the Harriman State Office campus to the east of UAlbany.

Need for more space for classes, offices, and research labs has been an issue for years, with acknowledgment of the problem coming from administration in the 2012 Facilities Master Plan.

Qing Lin Li, a third-year physics Ph.D student, described a cramped environment for students and faculty in the physics building on the podium.

“From my understanding, we don’t have enough space for graduate students,” said Li.

Several graduate students had to give up their second-floor offices when new physics professors were hired. He described how some offices have had to be housed in the building’s mailroom, and how nearby nanoscale offices are loud and crowded.

“I’ve grown to like the podium, so I’m not looking forward to leaving this nice central area that the campus has here,” said Associate Professor of Physics Dan Robbins. “On the other hand, a brand new building with an office has certain appeal as well.”

Robbins said he has heard that some classes may still be taught on the Podium.

“In terms of how well that’s gonna work, it’s too soon to say; that’s where I have a little bit of concern as to how smoothly that will go.”

E-TEC was originally planned to be constructed on UAlbany’s campus. The decision last year to build it on the State Office’s land necessitated that some form of quick transportation be available for students.

According to John Giarrusso, a crosswalk and traffic light will be installed on the Harriman Campus’ “ring roads,” two three-lane access roads which will be pared down to two lanes each near the crosswalk for safety and traffic reasons.

A bus stop will also be installed near the E-TEC building.

“It’ll be a really short ride, though,” said Giarrusso in an email.

Giarrusso said later in an interview that since the Harriman ring roads are not usually crowded with traffic, the reduction in lanes is not expected to affect State Office commuters.

Robert Griffin, dean of CEHC, said E-TEC will allow students to get hands-on experience, like training at an ‘emergency operations center,’ a room where students could practice responding to mock emergencies. The college also expects to partner with private businesses, as long as administration attracts them to the complex.

The E-TEC building is slated to be completed by the summer 2021.

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Joe Hoffman is the managing editor for the Albany Student Press.

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