December 15, 2009

First Graduate Of Schenectady County Community College Nanoscale Materials Technology Program To Work At SuperPower

By: by Traute F. Lehner, SuperPower


In 1999 Simon Miner read a story in Time magazine about nanotechnology and decided that someday he would pursue a career in the field that deals with manipulating things smaller than 100 nanometers (including individual atoms and molecules). Today, he has realized that dream.

Schenectady County Community College and SuperPower, Inc., held a special event in his honor today, announcing him as the first graduate of the College's Nanoscale Materials Technology A.A.S. degree program. Simon will graduate on May 16, 2009, during the College's 39th Commencement and already has been offered a full-time job as a Process Technician at SuperPower, Inc. in Schenectady. As part of his job, he will be testing SuperPower's high-temperature superconducting wires in liquid nitrogen to ensure that they can carry a high enough electrical current.

"The classes at SCCC have given me an understanding about the technology and also the implications of where this technology is going. We're in power distribution, which is one of the fields to be in right now. Understanding the science behind what we're doing at SuperPower has helped me excel," according to Simon.

The Nanoscale Materials Technology degree program at SCCC is part of a workforce development initiative undertaken by SCCC, SuperPower, Inc., and Union College. The program began at SCCC in Fall 2006 with curriculum development and was officially offered as an academic choice for students in Fall 2008.

In 2006, SCCC, SuperPower, Inc., and Union College were awarded, collectively,
$5 million through a New York State legislative item championed by Senator
Hugh T. Farley to help develop a highly skilled local workforce to enable SuperPower to successfully achieve its goal of manufacturing scale-up and commercial production of second generation (2G) high temperature superconducting (HTS) wire.

Simon's appointment as a full-time member of the staff at SuperPower exemplifies the intent of this partnership. He began working at SuperPower, Inc., in Summer 2008 in the marketing department, researching uses for superconducting wire and contacting engineers and scientists with an interest in purchasing. He was then hired part-time as a Technician during Fall 2008 and Spring 2009.

A native of Schenectady, Simon attended Schenectady High School. He started as a part-time student at SCCC in 2003 in Humanities and Social Sciences and later
Science, while working full time. In Spring 2008, he declared his major as Nanoscale Materials Technology.

"The purpose of the collaboration with SuperPower and Union College was to assist a local company to move a unique high tech product from the R&D phase to commercial production. We have been truly energized by the collaboration, especially with the opportunity to partner in the development of a new program which leads to real jobs in an emerging industry. SuperPower has been true to its promises by assisting us in course and laboratory development and by hiring many graduates from a variety of our programs. However, this year is special because we celebrate our first Nanoscale Materials graduate. Many students graduating from four-year colleges are having difficulty finding jobs this year, but our Nanoscales grad has a great job waiting for him," said Edward Baker, Interim President of SCCC.

"Since its formation in Schenectady in the year 2000, SuperPower has grown from a workforce of 20 to more than 70 at this time. We have recognized from the beginning that we would need to be able to count on a highly skilled, locally-available workforce to ensure our ability to successfully meet the anticipated market demand for our superconducting wire product. As we have now entered the transition phase from being solely a development-stage organization to one that is producing and offering our product for sale in a global marketplace, it is very encouraging to see that the Nanoscale Materials Technology program, on which we have collaborated with Schenectady County Community College since 2005, is beginning to show the hoped-for results. We are delighted to congratulate Simon Miner on being the first student to successfully complete the A.A.S. degree program. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce that SuperPower expects to hire Simon, who originally joined SuperPower as a student intern one year ago, as a full-time permanent employee later this month. We hope that Simon is just the first of many graduates we will hire as our business continues to grow," said Trudy Lehner, Director of Marketing at SuperPower, Inc.

"We are excited to collaborate with local companies such as SuperPower, Inc., to add high skilled jobs to the region's economy," said Stephen C. Ainlay, President of Union College. "We are proud of our role in helping to produce the scientists, engineers and technicians that the high-tech company will need as it ramps up production of its superconducting wire."

As part of the initiative, SCCC received $1 million in the 2006 New York State Budget for the acquisition of microscopy and spectroscopic testing equipment; facilities upgrades; and curriculum development in HTS manufacturing processes. The remainder of the grant was shared by SuperPower and Union College.

Speakers at the event on Monday, May 11, included: David Smingler, representing Senator Hugh T. Farley; Susan Savage, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature; Brian Stratton, Mayor of the City of Schenectady; Charles Steiner, President of the Chamber of Schenectady County; Trudy Lehner, Director of Marketing at SuperPower, Inc.; Dr. Penny Haynes, Dean of Academic Affairs at SCCC; Tania Cabrera, Assistant Professor in the Mathematics, Science and Technology Department at SCCC; and Dr. Ron Bucinell, Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Union College.