SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s (SUNY Poly) College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) announced that Michael Fancher, Director of SUNY Poly’s Advanced Manufacturing Performance (AMP) Center and the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Nanomaterials and Nanoelectronics (CATN2), has received $397,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The purpose of the grant is to train on-site employees and to serve as a regional training hub for Building Operations & Maintenance (O&M) of mission critical facilities that will utilize a “digital twin” of the Building Management System (BMS) and the Energy Monitoring System (EMS) that are used to operate the Zero Energy Nano (ZEN) smart building.

Combined with CNSE’s Partner Aligned Training Hub (PATH) model, the “ZEN Smart PATH” project will build upon millions of dollars in prior investments in technician skills training capabilities that have been developed by the CATN2, which is supported by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), to drive digital manufacturing for use in training technicians, engineers, and managers.

“I am proud to congratulate Michael Fancher as we share our gratitude for this support from NYSERDA that, in partnership with co-located industry partners, aims to provide students and those currently in the workplace access to highly relevant training to further catalyze the success of New York State’s semiconductor-focused ecosystem,” said SUNY Poly Acting President Dr. Tod A. Laursen.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said: “NYSERDA is thrilled to support SUNY Polytechnic Institute so that it can offer hands on training to students and existing workers to develop the specific skills needed within Building Operations and Maintenance to further smart building technology innovation. As New York continues its clean energy transition, training like this is essential to support high-demand career pathways and ensure that building and maintenance systems run smoothly now and well into the future.”

The  ZEN building, completed in 2015 and located at the Albany NanoTech Complex, is a 356,000-square-foot facility that serves as a living laboratory for smart building technology innovation and workforce development in data science, facility operations, and clean energy technologies. ZEN Smart PATH is a multi-year project that will train more than 100 on-site and regional partner employees by utilizing multiple data science platforms tailored for the many exciting careers in facility operations. Using a combination of training simulators, use cases and data system platforms, ZEN Smart PATH will:

  • Expand upon the previously announced Career Alignment Platform (CAP) that was developed with support from ReWire Group to organize career content by each facility system and provide access to the AMP Skillup America Learning Management System (LMS) to establish clear “career pathways” for equipment technicians and engineers. AMP Skillup America was co-developed in partnership with MetrixLearning to provide free access to commercially available on-line self-directed training content (e.g. Amatrol, Comptia, BIN 95, etc.) in the hardware and Supervisory Control & Data Acquisition (SCADA) architecture software systems;
  • Deploy a continuous commissioning analysis platform under contract with FacilityConneX (FCX) to provide data analyses using the ZEN “digital twin” for day-to-day operation of the ZEN facility while also serving as a training simulator, operating as a “virtual control room” for hands-on learning by equipment technicians, facility engineers, and operation managers. FCX cloud-based continuous commissioning platform and its hundreds of analytics will use the ZEN digital twin that monitors over 5,000 data points in real time, including financial performance related to the hundreds of systems used to operate the air handling, energy harvesting, power management, demand load, heating and chilling systems, among many others;
  • Deploy an advanced data analytics platform under a public-private partnership with Seeq Corporation (Seeq) to co-develop facility operation training “simulators” for selected use cases (e.g. chilled water, air handling, among others) and to understand complex system-of-systems interactions (e.g. root cause, system optimization, etc.) as a “digital sandbox” for hands-on learning of process technicians, facility engineers, design architects, and clean energy professionals. Training simulators will leverage machine learning using Seeq’s advanced data analytics product portfolio, including Seeq Workbench, Seeq Organizer, and Seeq Data Lab, and the ZEN digital twin configured as a “data warehouse” that contains ZEN Building Management Systems (BMS), Energy Management Systems (EMS), and other data (PV & Fuel Cell generation, weather, etc.) generated since 2015.

Just as pilots train for various flight scenarios, these simulators will train facility personnel to examine how their decisions impact selected “system-of-systems” due to the level of complex interactions among them. Supported by ReWire Group, ZEN Smart PATH will select “use cases” to simulate real-world scenarios with students in a training lab that can support up to eighty concurrent users operating the simulators or performing their analyses.

These educational efforts will all be organized into four skill levels: custodian, technician, engineer, and manager, in order to be able to build and train the innovation-centered workforce for a variety of high-demand career opportunities in the region and beyond. This initiative will also work to train an additional 175 facilities operations personnel as a regional training hub serving co-located industry partners, in addition to regional chip fab operators and transitioning Fort Drum veterans.

“I am thankful to NYSERDA for this grant, as well as for our partnerships with SUNY Poly’s globally recognized high-tech collaborators who are helping to drive the industry forward,” said Michael Fancher. “This funding will allow us to leverage the innovative workforce training efforts that we have developed to-date to provide hands-on learning that will help individuals find meaningful careers in New York State’s continually expanding semiconductor sector,” said Michael Fancher. “We are excited to also work with Seeq Corporation to build operations and maintenance simulators for chilled water and air handling systems and to solve the “what if” questions; FacilityConneX for their innovative continuous commissioning software services that will be used on a daily basis to optimize the ZEN facility operation; ReWire Group to expand upon an existing CMS originally developed for advanced manufacturing, to include facilities training and helping with use cases; and MetrixLearning to modify the learning management system for facilities so that we can provide a truly robust experiential learning platform.”

“NY CREATES is pleased to support the use of the ZEN building and systems as a foundation for the AMP Center’s important data collection and training initiative, and we applaud NYSERDA for making a smart investment in the type of hands-on, experiential training the semiconductor workforce needs,” said David Anderson, President of NY CREATES. “The Albany Nanotech Complex is the nation’s leading site for industry-related research, development, and training and this innovative public-private partnership is a perfect fit as it focuses on building a world-class workforce that will help to deliver the next generation of semiconductor technology and operations.”

“Seeq is excited to partner with Michael Fancher and SUNY Poly’s Advanced Manufacturing Performance (AMP) Center to drive innovative workforce training efforts,” said Dr. Lisa Graham, CEO, Seeq Corporation. “Giving students access to an industry-leading, advanced analytics solution for process manufacturing and use case expertise will accelerate their time-to-impact on productivity and promote next-generation sustainable manufacturing practices.”

Mark A. Pipher, VP and General Manager of FacilityConneX said, “This is an exciting project for the FacilityConneX Team to engage with SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s students and Albany NanoTech’s facilities engineers to implement the latest in sustainability, safety, and compliance with advanced analytics, driving not only predictive maintenance goals, but also education, which is the reason we built our IoT Solution for Smart Buildings and Smart Manufacturing.”

Al Evans, Managing Partner of the ReWire Group said, “NYSERDA’s ongoing financial support and SUNY Poly’s deep subject matter expertise are two major components in why New York leads the nation in high-tech skills development. As a proud partner to SUNY Poly and a NYSERDA-designated Clean Energy Training provider, ReWire looks forward to its supporting role in helping to lay the building blocks for our most important resource–our skilled people. As an MWBE, and a firm working at the intersection of energy, technology, and training, ReWire is uniquely qualified to help foster the development of skilled trades of all New Yorkers, ensuring we continue to develop the best and most diverse workforce in the US.”

“MetrixLearning is thrilled and honored to continue working with Michael Fancher and SUNY Poly’s AMP Center,” said Brian Lee, MetrixLearning CEO. “The Center is an international innovator, and the NYSERDA grant enhances the mission.”

This news complements additional workforce related initiatives based at SUNY Poly, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Performance (AMP) Center, created as a public private partnership with initial financial support exceeding $3 million. Recently, the AMP Center received $1.25 million in funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce; $250,000 from New York State’s Empire State Development Corporation (ESD); and more than $750,000 from anchor industry partners to launch the Career Alignment Platform (CAP), a cutting-edge workforce initiative that aims to attract and develop the highly skilled technical workers needed for digital manufacturing in the semiconductor industry. For information visit

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