While nanotechnology involves the study and application of very small things, Alfred State’s new Micro-Nano Fabrication Laboratory is one very big addition to the college’s Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology Department.
Located on the fourth floor of the Engineering Technology Building, the facility houses a clean room for advanced device, microstructure, and circuit development. Within the lab are state-of-the-art instruments for designing, fabricating, characterizing, and testing complex micro-scale structures and devices in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and microelectronics.
The clean room is equipped to support education and research activities in various science and engineering fields, allowing advances in areas as diverse as biomedical engineering, energy harvesting, electronics, cell biology, and high-performance materials. The facility allows students to design, build, and test their own simple devices, while gaining experience in microelectronic and MEMS fabrication techniques.
The main purpose of the clean room is to provide a valuable hands-on experience for students who are looking to work in microelectronics, MEMS, and microfabrication industries after graduation. Very few schools offer such a hands-on learning opportunity to undergraduate students.
While the facility was upgraded at one time in 2003, it was recently expanded through a $1 million grant from the State University of New York (SUNY). The expansion included building renovation and equipment purchases, allowing a host of microelectronic and MEMS devices with features the size of one micron or larger to be fabricated in the same clean room.
Alfred State recently celebrated this new facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by faculty, staff, students, friends of the college, Allegany County Legislator Dwight Fanton, and representatives from the offices of US Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, and State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean. Providing welcoming remarks was Dr. John Williams, dean of Alfred State’s School of Architecture, Management, and Engineering Technology.
“This is an exciting day,” he said. “This is many years in the making. We were kind of, up until this point, the best-kept secret. People would hear about what (Associate Professor) Dave Hunt was doing and the systems and the processes that were in place here, and they were impressed. So, this facility actually takes it to the next level, and I think will make us a school of choice.”
Dr. Kristin Poppo, Alfred State provost, said the lab provides an amazing opportunity for Alfred State and its students.
“We are the college of technology for western New York and we have to be at the front end of all these endeavors,” she said. “I think what we do in engineering technology at Alfred State meets the huge demand from the industry because our curricula are not just academic and theoretical. They’re hands on, and our students leave knowing what they’re doing.”
The final speaker for the ceremony was Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, who said ensuring that the college offers state-of-the-art facilities that prepare students for the workforce is a top priority.
“We need this kind of equipment to train our students so when they cross the stage and get their diploma, and even before, they’re ready to go to work,” he said. “This facility is certainly evident of the industry standard that has been set, and we’re delighted to make it available to our students.”
Watch a student video of the new micro-nano lab ribbon cutting.