ETEC Opening Ceremony Celebrates New Center of Research and Innovation

18 people in business clothes stand with scissors, ready to cut a purple ribbon stretched in front of them with the word ETEC repeated on it
President Rodríguez, Chancellor Malatras and Provost Carol Kim, center, prepare to cut a ceremonial ribbon with other University, state and local stakeholders at ETEC's formal opening Wednesday. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 18, 2021) — UAlbany’s newest research facility was officially unveiled Wednesday in a celebration that drew the SUNY chancellor, local and state politicians and the University’s leadership, faculty, staff and students.

The state-of-the-art ETEC research and development complex was designed to bring together scientists and entrepreneurs from across disciplines to collaboratively find solutions to society’s most complex challenges.  

The $180 million facility is the epicenter of many of the University’s signature research strengths, including climate science, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity. As a hub for research, scholarship, applied learning and commercial development, ETEC is designed to foster interdisciplinary collaborations among students, faculty and entrepreneurs to translate new knowledge into innovative solutions to build a more resilient and economically vibrant New York.

“We actually like to say that ETEC is UAlbany’s epicenter for everything that is related to climate, environment, weather, disasters and emergency preparedness and response, but it also includes a number of other critical academic departments and innovative programs that will contribute to the growth, development and impact of UAlbany, locally and globally,” President Havidán Rodríguez said during the ceremony. “ETEC is also designed to work with, invest in, and transform our communities in the City of Albany, the Capital Region, the state of New York and beyond.”

At 246,000 square feet, ETEC is one of UAlbany’s largest and most energy-efficient buildings and represents a significant milestone in the University’s commitment to sustainability. Heated and cooled by heat pumps connected to 190 geothermal wells and powered in part by nearly 4,800 solar panels on the roofs of the Academic Podium, ETEC is an all-electric facility built to achieve LEED Platinum certification. It is projected to have energy costs 70 percent lower than a similarly sized, conventionally powered building that meets current energy codes. 

Nearly 10 years in the making

The vision for ETEC began in 2012 as UAlbany’s marquee project under the NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant program. Backed by $35 million in NYSUNY 2020 funding, the project grew larger and more ambitious when UAlbany partnered with New York State to locate the building on the neighboring Harriman State Office Campus — a first for UAlbany. 

SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras joked that ETEC was nothing but a single PowerPoint slide in 2012, a concept brought to SUNY 2020 by UAlbany’s Vice President for Research Jim Dias, adding that he was proud to see the project come to fruition.

“The opening of ETEC research and entrepreneurship complex demonstrates how state investment in public higher education can yield real and immense results that provide our students with the highest quality and cutting-edge education available,” Malatras said. “My thanks to Gov. Hochul, state legislative leaders and local leaders who believed in SUNY and the vision of this facility to bring together a wide range of students, educators, industry leaders and entrepreneurs to solve many of the world’s greatest environmental challenges right under one SUNY roof.” 

Taking advantage of all that is under that roof is student Preston Paige, a junior from Schenectady County with a double major in Atmospheric Science and Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. Paige, who spoke at the ceremony, has interned at the New York State Mesonet, and is currently interning with the state Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services.

“My story is similar to many other students who will now call ETEC home,” Paige said. “I’m grateful to be here today and have already taken advantage of the growing cross-collaborations of atmospheric science and emergency preparedness that are happening now on campus. The hands-on, interactive opportunities available at ETEC for students are endless, from internship opportunities at the NYS Mesonet and National Weather Service’s Albany office, to a science-on-a-sphere room and weather observation deck that will change the way we teach atmospheric science in the classroom.”

ETEC is home to the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and UAlbany’s expansive Weather-Climate Enterprise, including the world-renowned Atmospheric Sciences Research Center and Center of Excellence in Weather & Climate Analytics; and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences as well as Department of Chemistry research labs and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ departments of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The building also is home to the UAlbany-operated New York State Mesonet, the most advanced statewide early warning weather-detection system in the nation, as well as the Regional Forecast Office of the National Weather Service.  

Also central to the ETEC vision are business development services that support faculty research and drive economic growth. The UAlbany Innovation Center incubator occupies part of the first floor, along with the Small Business Development Center, commercialization and technology transfer offices as well as private partners like TruWeather Solutions. Two Entrepreneurs-in-Residence will help guide faculty, researchers and independent entrepreneurs through the early critical steps of ushering their discoveries to market.  

ETEC’s location on the Harriman State Office Campus puts students, faculty and staff on the doorstep of public agencies developing and implementing policy relevant to their research areas, creating numerous applied learning opportunities for UAlbany students. 

Featured spaces inside ETEC include a decision theater to allow faculty and students to replicate real-world emergency response scenarios, a maker lab for robot and drone construction, a high-powered xCITE Lab computing center for complex data visualizations and analysis, a nearly six-foot diameter globe for tracking hurricanes and other weather systems across the world, a glass-enclosed fifth-floor observation room to monitor incoming storms, and a rooftop equipment deck for launching weather balloons and other experiments.

A walking path connects ETEC with the Uptown Campus, and a new CDTA route connects ETEC to both the Uptown and Downtown campuses via a new connector road not open to private vehicles.

ETEC was designed by CannonDesign Architecture and Engineering and constructed by Consigli Construction Co. under the management of Turner Construction Company and the State University Construction Fund. UAlbany broke ground on the project in April 2018, and the building was substantially complete by July 2021 — on time and budget despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  

View a gallery of photos from the ETEC opening.