Skip to main content

Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 - 9:15am

TO:                                                 The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


FROM:                                         Frank Muñoz


SUBJECT:                             Master Plan Amendment: State University of New York at Albany, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nanoscale Engineering


DATE:                                      September 1, 2009


STRATEGIC GOAL:             Goal 2






Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


                            Should the Board of Regents approve an amendment to the master plan of the State University of New York authorizing the University at Albany to offer the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Nanoscale Engineering?


Reason for Consideration


              Required by State regulation


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the full Board at its September 2009 meeting for final action.


Procedural History


              Master plan amendment is required because this would be the institution’s first Bachelor of Science degree program in the disciplinary area of engineering.


Background Information


              The State University Board of Trustees, at its June 16, 2009 meeting, adopted a resolution to amend the State University Master Plan to authorize the University at Albany (UAlbany) to offer instruction leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Nanoscale Engineering in the disciplinary area of engineering.  Currently, the University offers B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. programs in Nanoscale Science and M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Nanoscale Engineering.


The proposed program is designed to provide qualified students with a well-rounded education of the highest quality by cementing their fundamental knowledge in the engineering principles of nanotechnology, including the development and application of the analytical tools necessary to explore, discover, and innovate. Graduates of the program will be able to creatively solve nanoscale engineering problems using rigorous analytical, computational, and experimental tools based on foundational natural sciences, mathematics, and applied engineering concepts.  Students will also be well equipped to solve challenging and exciting problems in nanoscale engineering, applied science, and physical and biological engineering sciences.  In this respect, undergraduate nanoscale engineering education is wholly compliant with UAlbany’s mission and constitutes a central component of its academic portfolio, as documented in the 2006 Mission Review Memorandum of Understanding between the University and SUNY.  The importance of nanoscale engineering to the Albany and SUNY missions was also underscored in 2004 in the SUNY Board of Trustees unanimous approval of the creation of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE).


The 132-credit nanoscale engineering curriculum is designed for completion in eight academic semesters and is fully in compliance with the SUNY General Education requirements.  It comprises a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary, instructional portfolio centered on scholarly excellence which builds on and taps into CNSE’s global academic leadership in nanoscale science and engineering.  To this end, the nanoscale major is comprised of four components: Foundational Principles (20 credits), Core Competency (27 credits), Concentration (9 credits), and Capstone Research/Design (9 credits). The first two components integrate the dissemination of fundamental, cross-disciplinary, nanoscale engineering principles with the cultivation of the critical know-how necessary for advanced undergraduate coursework and interdisciplinary research.  The second two components expand on the foundational knowledge to develop the topical expertise, technical depth, and independent applied research skill set that are essential to a well-rounded undergraduate educational experience in engineering. The curriculum also includes six credits of nanotechnology survey courses, nine credits of nanoscale engineering design skills electives, one-credit senior seminar courses, and fifteen credits of mathematics. The University has submitted a letter of intent to seek accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.


Qualified students admitted directly into the program must hold a high school diploma (or equivalent), with admission being based on a thorough review of high school grade point average (HSGPA), Regents exams, SAT or ACT scores, overall class rank, letters of recommendation, and potentially an on-site personal interview. The minimum eligibility will require a HSGPA of 87.5%, a SAT of 1,320 (1600 scale) and/or an ACT of 25. Undergraduate students at the UAlbany not enrolled in the program may apply for admission after completing 24 credits of qualified science/engineering coursework, with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in this coursework.  Students admitted as “transfer” students to UAlbany may apply directly to the program if they have completed 24 credits of qualified science/engineering coursework at their former institution(s).


The program expects to enroll 20 full- and part-time students in the first year, growing to approximately 150 students in the program by the fifth year. The prospective nanoscale engineering student body will encompass self-directed, innovative, and motivated individuals from culturally, ethnically, socially, and gender-diverse groups aspiring to succeed in the emerging high technology employment fields of the global innovation economy of the 21st century.  As such, the student body will include highly talented students drawn to an interdisciplinary, hands-on, project-driven, and cutting-edge program that goes well beyond traditional classroom-based study.


The program will operate within the most advanced nanotechnology research and education enterprise of its kind at any university in the world, namely, the CNSE Albany NanoTech “Megaplex.” The Complex has received over $4.5 billion in micro- and nanoscale public and private investments, and houses more than 2,000 scientists, researchers, engineers, faculty, and graduate students working on-site from leading global corporations and top research universities, including IBM, GlobalFoundries, SEMATECH, Toshiba, ASML, Applied Materials, Tokyo Electron, Vistec Lithography and Atotech.  Currently, the site consists of over 800,000 square feet of cutting-edge research and instructional laboratories, electronic classrooms, and videoconferencing auditoriums, and the only fully-integrated, 300mm wafer, computer chip pilot prototyping and demonstration line within 80,000 square feet of Class 1 capable cleanrooms.  Over the first five years, the program will also be supported by over $25M in direct funding that has already been secured to cover expenses such as personnel, library resources, equipment, laboratory, supplies, and associated investments in support of the program.


CNSE believes the University currently has a suitable collection of relevant informational holdings and resources which can be adequately accessed by the undergraduate population. The current library holdings (both hardcopy and electronic) in support of the current M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Nanoscale Science and Nanoscale Engineering are sufficient to support the proposed undergraduate program. Through SUNYConnect, one can view the holdings in the disciplines of nanoscale science and nanoscale engineering. The site features a comprehensive database of thousands of current sources.


The curriculum proposed will be directly supported by 55 CNSE faculty and more than 150 administrative, engineering, technical and support staff. The science, engineering and educational breadth of the CNSE faculty leading the nanoscale engineering curriculum reflect its intrinsic interdisciplinary foundation and scholarly excellence.  Fully half of the 55 CNSE faculty are formally-trained and practicing engineers with doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Materials Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Computer Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Sciences, Surface Biotechnology, Polymer Engineering, and Solid State Devices and Materials. These faculty are complemented by outstanding CNSE nanoscience, nanobioscience, and nanoeconomics faculty with doctoral degrees in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Nuclear Physics, Solid State Physics, Semiconductor and Dielectric Physics, Microbiology, Immunology, Neuroscience, and Economics. The integration of the complementary basic science and applied engineering assets of the CNSE faculty uniquely positions the proposed nanoscale engineering degree to provide its student clientele with the fundamental knowledge necessary in the engineering principles of nanotechnology, while preparing them to solve nanoscale engineering problems using rigorous analytical, computational, and experimental tools.


The scholarly diversity, research proficiency, pedagogical excellence, and intellectual innovation of the CNSE nansocale science and nanoscale engineering faculty will continue to mirror its unparalleled growth.  From 15 tenured and tenure-track faculty at its inception in 2004, CNSE has more than tripled its full-time faculty and added more than 150 support staff.  This expansion is expected to continue unabated, and reach over 75 full-time faculty within the next three to five years, using resources already secured by CNSE.


Program graduates will be uniquely qualified for opportunities in the high-tech industries of the 21st century, including nanoelectronics, nanomedicine, health sciences, and sustainable energy, or for competitive graduate degrees in most science and engineering fields.  The importance of the undergraduate program is best captured in the multi-billion dollar National Nanotechnology Initiative, signed into law by the U.S. President in 2004, which calls for the creation of the "laboratory and human resource infrastructure in universities and in the education of nanotechnology professionals" to prepare the U.S. workforce for the 21st century "innovation economy." This need is supported by practically every study, report, and analysis published by governmental bodies, corporate organizations, academic entities, and think tanks across the globe, including the National Science Foundation, which forecasts the need for more than two million nanotechnology professionals at all employment levels in the U.S. by 2014, with another five million nanotechnology jobs worldwide in related fields and disciplines.


              A canvass was conducted of all degree-granting institutions in the Northeast Region and to all degree-granting institutions offering Engineering programs statewide. There were no negative comments from the five institutions responding. One college stressed the importance of ABET accreditation if the program were to be considered as engineering.  In addition, the college commented that there was not a specific reference in the Abstract to companies in the private sector that would employ B.S. graduates.  Initial and supplemental information provided by UAlbany addressed this concern satisfactorily.


              The Department has determined that the proposed program meets the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.




              It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve the proposed master plan amendment of the State University of New York authorizing the University at Albany to offer the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Nanoscale Engineering.  This Amendment will be effective until September 15, 2010, unless the Department registers the program prior to that date, in which case the Master Plan Amendment shall be without term.


Timetable for Implementation


              If the Board of Regents approves the master plan amendment, the Department will register the program following gubernatorial approval, and the institution will proceed to recruit and enroll students in the program.