AU Press Releases

AU gets $2.8 million in state Regional Development funding

Alfred University will receive $2.8 million to purchase equipment and renovate facilities in its High-Temperature Materials Characterization Laboratory as its portion of the first awards made through Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s $785 million Regional Economic Development Council initiative. The award was announced Dec. 8.

"These funds will enable Alfred University to play a vital role in developing the economy of our region," said Alfred University President Charles M. Edmondson in hearing of the award. "Thanks to Catherine Young (state senator, R-Olean), we had already established the foundation of this unique characterization facility.

"Having chaired the Advanced Manufacturing Work Group of the Regional Council, I have a better understanding of just how important Alfred University can be to this regions and all of New York," continued Edmondson, who is a member of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council appointed by the governor.

"We also gratefully acknowledge the work of the Empire State Development Corp. and Christina Orsi (regional director) personally for its support in this matter." In addition, Edmondson acknowledge Allegany County officials for their support of the project, as well as Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, state Sen. Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Nassau County), and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (R-Manhattan) for "recognizing and supporting Alfred University’s role in this new beginning of economic development in Western New York."

The University intends to use the state funding to continue to build its suite of highly specialized high-temperature characterization equipment and to provide testing facilities for new materials being developed for renewable energy applications, said Doreen Edwards, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University.

Nearly every new consumer product introduced over the past several decades -- computers, cell phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, DVD recorders/players - and every renewable energy technology, including batteries, solid oxide fuel cells, and solar power generation, have been made possible by the development of new materials, engineered to meet exact specifications and to perform in certain ways, said Edwards. Many of the materials are ceramic-based, and many of them require high-temperature processing or must be designed to function at high temperatures or in corrosive environments, she noted.

The state economic development funds will go toward improving capacity for testing applications for high-temperature materials, including labs in wind energy/fluid mechanics; thermal science/solar energy; photovoltaic solar energy/alternative fuels and power conversion. Alfred's lab already provides critical research support to several major NYS companies and small fuel cell development companies.

Edwards explained "It is critical to the continued development of new materials, new processes and ultimately, new products to understand how materials react at high temperatures, either as they are being processed or as they perform. Most analytical and characterization equipment is not designed for high-temperature measurement. Having access to tools specifically designed to analyze and characterize materials at high-temperatures will allow a wide range of industries to develop better, more efficient products. This, in turn, allows industries to retain current jobs and to potentially add new jobs.

"This is the reason Corning Inc. approached Alfred University six years ago with the request that the University’s Inamori School of Engineering establish a high-temperature materials characterization lab," said Edwards.

The facilities now in place at Alfred University are being widely used by large companies, such as Corning, Delphi, Kodak, and General Electric, as well as smaller companies with a potential for growth, such as Solid Fuel Cell in Rochester, and TAM Ceramics in Niagara Falls. The NY BEST Consortium will make extensive use of the facilities in its battery initiative.

Announced in July, the Regional Economic Development Councils represent a fundamental shift in the state's approach to economic development from a top-down development model to a community-based, performance driven approach which empowers individual areas to develop comprehensive strategic plans that invest in regional solutions to create jobs and economic growth. Alfred is included in the Western New York Council, which includes Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara counties.