UB, Alfred State strike electrical engineering program agreement

Two students and their professor work inside an electrical engineering lab.

Inside the lab of Zhi Sun, center, associate professor of electrical engineering. Credit: Onion Studio.

By Tracy Puckett

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Kemper Lewis head shot.
“I'm looking forward to the value this collaboration will bring to both programs. ”
Kemper Lewis, dean
University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Alfred State College (ASC) graduates may seamlessly continue their education at the University at Buffalo and pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering, courtesy of a new agreement signed by the two State University of New York (SUNY) entities.

The arrangement, made between ASC and the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), grants eligibility of admission to the master’s program to those who have earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology from ASC. They must have accumulated a “B” grade point average, at minimum, in upper-level coursework taken during their last two academic years.

“I'm looking forward to the value this collaboration will bring to both programs,” says Kemper Lewis, dean of the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “For UB, it allows us access to well-qualified, well-prepared, and motivated MS students. For ASC, it’s an effective and efficient pathway for students who want to further their education and professional development in electrical engineering.”

The degree includes a specialization in one of four areas: signals, communications and networking; optics and photonics; solid-state electronics; or energy systems.  

Funding awarded two years ago by New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Climate Jobs NY initiative is the catalyst for the partnership. The grant ­­– managed by the UB Center for Industrial Effectiveness (TCIE) – originally enabled UB and ASC to work together in closing critical workforce gaps between clean energy employers and Western New York educators.

Funding strengthened academic programs at both institutions by infusing clean energy concepts into their curricula and upgrading laboratory facilities with renewable energy applications.  

“These students who come to us aren’t just coming with the basic qualifications,” says Jonathan Bird, PhD, professor and chair of UB’s Department of Electrical Engineering. “They have been in a program that has a strong footing in the clean energy landscape and will have been exposed to a lot of cutting-edge ideas associated with clean energy technology.”

Bird says the deal broadens horizons for those who may not have considered extending their education or believed it was unreachable.

The arrangement eases the application process, as described by John Williams, PhD, dean of ASC’s School of Architecture Management and Engineering Technology. A dedicated graduate academic coordinator screens applicants through a unique application portal. ASC applicants bypass traditional requirements, such as completing the GRE test and submitting letters of recommendation.    

Both Bird and Williams agree that strengthening links between Alfred and UB creates synergy with the potential to trigger new educational programs, and promotes the notion of competing together for funding resources.

“We’re aligned to have some better conversations and present opportunities across the spectrum for students,” Williams comments.

“From my perspective, what’s really important is this creation of bridges between different campuses of the SUNY system, and campuses that traditionally serve very different groups of students,” Bird says. “When we do work together, there are a lot of benefits that emerge for the students and for the institutions that simply wouldn’t be possible if we failed to collaborate.”

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