SUNY Poly receives grant to enhance community impact

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MARCY — A SUNY Polytechnic Institute official in conjunction with representatives at Virginia Tech and the Educopia Institute have received project funding to help communities with challenges like workforce development and maintaining digital infrastructure.

The nearly $600,000 award, from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will enable the group including SUNY Poly Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Andrew Russell to “expand upon its existing framework that merges academic and community-based research to make a sustainable and positive impact,” said a SUNY Poly announcement.

Through the foundation’s support, Russell and collaborating researchers will “continue this critical work to improve communities and their services,” SUNY Poly interim President Grace Wang said. Other researchers include Lee Vinsel, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology & Society at Virginia Tech, and Jessica Meyerson, Director of Research & Strategy at Educopia Institute.

“This award is a sign that the Sloan Foundation and the communities we serve appreciate our work and have the confidence that we’ll make an impact,” Russell said. “This award also is timely, as there is renewed awareness of the role of the ‘essential workers’ who are keeping us all safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and helping to maintain comfort in our daily lives. Thanks to Sloan’s support, SUNY Poly and our partners will continue to play leading roles in advocating for essential workers and their role in infrastructure and workforce development.”

Vinsel noted one of the initiatives involves K-12 education maintenance: “The American Society of Civil Engineers gives American public schools a D+ simply because we have done such a poor job taking care of the buildings and other infrastructure that serves our educators and students. On top of that, we are now adding hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of tablet computers and other education technologies—all of which will need to be maintained. I believe we could play an important role in helping school districts get on top of these issues.”

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