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    Wireless Center To Help Long Island Economy

    In December, a $200 million research facility opened on Stony Brook University’s Research and Development Park. This facility provided a new home for the Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), which is expected to stimulate Long Island’s tech industry, especially in the current economic downturn.

    Created in 2003, CEWIT is a $250 million government, academic and industrial research facility that is designed to help Long Island’s information technology industry. It has generated more than 600 jobs in the information technology sector during the past several years, and CEWIT is likely to create more with the opening of the 100,000 square-foot facility.

    As the economic crisis deepens, CEWIT will play a crucial role in Long Island’s economic future because of the reslting job opportunities.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in December was 7.2 percent nationwide, the highest level since 1993. The figures for January were even worse, with the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent. With the economic crisis expected to intensify, the information technology industry will be significant for job seekers.

    The information technology sector has continued to grow steadily over the past few years and has accounted for a third of the economic growth over the past decade.

    Lee Koppelman, the director of the Center for Regional Policies Studies, pointed out a promising future in technology. He explained that CEWIT would be one of the stabilizers for the Long Island economy in the aftermath of the financial collapse on Wall Street.

    “It will be one of Long Island’s saving graces,” Koppelman said.

    Jason Dedrick, a researcher with the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organization and expert on the information technology industry, disagreed with Koppelman.

    Dedrick believed there will be some impact because CEWIT is a research facility and an incubator. He explained that CEWIT will probably not be the savior for Long Island because many of the projects the information technology sector embarked upon were commissioned by the financial sector, but he believed that investment in information technology is a catalyst for economic growth.

    Research funds granted by large corporations facilitate CEWIT’s operation. Large corporations like CA, Inc. and Motorola have partnered with CEWIT. If large corporations need research and development assistance, they work with CEWIT to solve their problems through research.

    “Sea-wit, what is that?” Joseph Fabisevich, 19, asked. After a brief explanation, the computer science student at Stony Brook thought CEWIT would rob diligent researchers of their work, but that is not the case.

    “CEWIT is a well thought out program that has taken technology beyond the thought level,” Scott Passeser, the director of industrial outreach for CEWIT, said. He explained the difference between other research organizations and CEWIT.

    It is more than just research because new companies can be launched based on the products its research yields.

    Koppelman, also an expert in economic development programs at Stony Brook, explained that CEWIT’s ability to create new companies helps the economy by creating more jobs. “CEWIT is in its formative years, and the potential is tremendous,” Koppelman said.

    Koppelman also emphasized the fact that students are offered scholarships and internships that prepare them for careers in information and technology. Some students even land jobs with CEWIT.

    When Fabisevich learned more about the CEWIT’s operations, he thought it was a good idea that would advance his knowledge of computer science. Fabisevich also expressed interest in CEWIT’s operations.

    According to Driving the Long Island Economy, a report about the impact of Stony Brook University by the Center for Regional Policy Studies, CEWIT has already obtained $40 million in federal research grants. An investment in Stony Brook by the state has generated a $4 billion return, nearly a 2,300 percent return. CEWIT contributes to this number.

    Many students are like Fabisevich, unfamiliar with the five-letter acronym. After a thorough explanation, students shared positive views on CEWIT.

    Rowena Eng, a junior at Stony Brook studying marine sciences, thought Stony Brook might see a surge in computer science students.

    “I think people might start changing majors,” Eng said.

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