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Stony Brook U. awarded $180K in SUNY High Needs program

(MICHAEL PEDERSEN / THE STATESMAN)
Gov. Cuomo, above, announced $7 million would go toward SUNY’s programs for workforce development. (MICHAEL PEDERSEN / THE STATESMAN)

As part of the State University of New York High Needs Program, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo allocated $7 million in awards to support development of areas considered to be of high need in today’s workforce. Among 37 New York colleges and universities to receive funding, Stony Brook University was awarded $180,000 and shared $100,000 with SUNY Old Westbury and Farmingdale.

“SUNY’s High Needs program is just one way in which we honor our promises of economic and workforce development to New York State while educating and training our students in careers that will lead to their success after graduation,” SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said in a statement.  “Students who take advantage of these programs are the engineers, clean energy experts, healthcare technicians and business leaders of tomorrow, and we are proud to foster their development and training on campuses across the State.”

The High Needs Program includes the development of studies for careers with high growth rates as determined by the Department of Labor and Empire State Development.

“The High Needs Program provides funding to campuses to expand or develop professional programs that connect directly to occupations crucial to the economic vitality of New York,” Yacov Shamash, the vice president for Economic Development and the dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University, said in an email.

According to the governor’s office, such careers currently include engineering, public health, information technology, clean energy, biomedical-biotechnical and business and finance.

“By focusing on developing a workforce in these particular fields, we are positioning the economy for significant growth and helping people thrive in vibrant evolving industries across the State,” Cuomo said in a statement.  “The job training programs we are funding today provide students with the skills they need to succeed in some of the most rapidly expanding parts of the private sector–which also helps New York businesses find the talent they need to grow.”

Of the funding awarded to Stony Brook, $90,000 will be used for the development of an advanced certificate in self-management of chronic diseases, and $90,000 will be used for online courses and “seamless transfer” from two-year Engineering Science Association colleges to full-time engineering programs, according to an SBU press release. The $100,000 awarded to Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and Farmingdale will be used for joint campus training and the development of high-needs courses in accounting and finance. 

“This program will allow Accounting and Finance faculty members from Old Westbury, together with such faculty from Stony Brook and Farmingdale, to obtain enhanced training on how to develop online and hybrid courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels,”  Anthony Barbera, the dean of the School of Business and assistant vice president for academic affairs at SUNY Old Westbury, said.

“This grant is just the beginning of what we hope will be more extensive curricular cooperation amongst the Business programs at Old Westbury, Stony Brook and Farmingdale,” Barbera said. “Rather than looking at each other as competitors we see ourselves as cooperating units in a larger entity, namely SUNY.”

All SUNY campuses were eligible to apply for funding, however priority was given to campuses that offer online courses through Open SUNY, a web-based collaborative learning center where students are able to obtain a degree while having access to all 64 of the state’s SUNY campuses. Through Open SUNY, Stony Brook University currently offers a bachelor’s degree program in electrical engineering.

According to Shamash, “the resources provided by the High Needs Program are aimed at increasing engineering enrollments and graduating hundreds and thousands more engineers every year to feed the engineering workforce pipeline in the State.”

Specifically, the program helped fund the new undergraduate degree in civil engineering, which focuses on the infrastructure of various transportation systems.

The awards will also support the development of programs targeted at supporting and building sustainable energy technologies.

“It will significantly enlarge opportunities for professional engineering education for New Yorkers and residents of any state, and thereby strengthen the technical workforce in New York and across the country,” Shamash said.

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