Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Albany Nanotech

I returned today from a 1-day visit to Albany Nanotech, the absolutely enormous joint venture between SUNY Albany and a whole slew of collaborators, including International Sematech. In terms of facilities, this place is unparalleled. They have multiple photolithography tools for 300mm wafer processing, including standard (in-air, capable of 65 nm features), immersion (using the refractive index of very pure water to shrink the wavelength, allowing features down to 33 nm), EUV (reflective optics, 13.6 nm wavelength source, one of only two such systems in the world), and e-beam. They have every etching, deposition, polishing, and characterization tool you can think of. 80000 ft^2 of cleanroom space. I confess: I have facility envy. No other university could pull this off - this is an unprecedented confluence of industrial investment, educational initiative, and gobs of state funding, and seems to me like a sustainable model, at least for the next decade or more. No wonder Sematech is shifting lots (most?) of their operations to Albany.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you have any thoughts on this article?

Doug Natelson said...

Well, the man manages a multi-billion dollar facility with nearly 2000 high level employees. His salary is high compared to most faculty at state universities, but his responsibilities are vastly larger. There are department chairs and center directors in engineering at large state schools that make ~ $300K; given that and the level of center that he runs, I don't think his salary is crazy. I really didn't care for the tone of the article - just because the guy likes to spend his money on fancy cars doesn't somehow make him a bad or greedy person.

Bernard said...

The real sadness in this lies with juxtaposing the sentiment of
>>
Well, the man manages a multi-billion dollar facility with nearly 2000 high level employees. >>
with the report that the governor of the state gets $179,000.

That's not so much a criticism of the researcher's worth as it is a sad comment on how we value (or fail to value) governance. And then we're shocked when all we get are idiots and miscreants.

Doug Natelson said...

Bernie - what you're really arguing is that low pay for political electees is a virtual guarantee of corruption by special interests. There's definitely some truth to that. There is no way that Spitzer's household income is anywhere near $179k/yr.

The article's tone really did annoy me. Someone has to be the highest state-salaried employee. Why not have it be someone bringing thousands of high-tech jobs and huge investment to a chronically depressed area.

N. Peter Armitage said...

It seems like a lot of money to me. I'd like to know the rational for paying that much money. Even his straight academic salary puts him well in front of your average non medical Nobel. $950,000 is also about 50% more than your average top tier university president is getting. It is also well in excess of what other scientific directors of "multi-billion dollar facilt(ies)" are earning. For instance, circa 2004 LBL director and Nobel winner was making $350,000 (check google for sourcing).

As an aside, I'd never heard of this guy until I read the article.

Anonymous said...

Unless one is Bill Gates, or the King of Saudi Arabia, most people who make more than a million per month are unheard of.

Salary in academia is low, so his salary may seem a lot. Otherwise, it's not too much. In any case, in the academic world, I don't think most people are known for how much they make.

Doug Natelson said...

To put this in perspective, the typical football coach at a Big 10 school makes well over $2M not counting the bonuses and incentives for winning bowl games.

hypnose said...

Yes, but how much money does a big 10 school make out of football? It is waay more than 2m per year. One needs to put things into context. Real Madrid pays 20m per year to David Beckham because he has the ability to attract viewers to the television screen. Bill Clinton is paid 300k per speech because everybody wants to see and listen to him. Who wants to listen to a university professor? Nobody...

In a market economy, salaries are determined by demand and supply. if someone is paid a given amount, that is probably he is worth that much. This is the harsh reality.

Doug Natelson said...

Hypnose - You've basically made my point....

N. Peter Armitage said...

hypnose said.
>In a market economy, salaries are
>determined by demand and supply.
>if someone is paid a given amount,
>that is probably he is worth that
>much. This is the harsh reality.

and then Doug said
>Hypnose - You've basically made my >point....

Well I certainly agree with the above as a general statement, but I still find it incredible that this guy is being paid 20% more than ANY public university president in the US.

Chronicle of Higher Ed. gives the numbers as.

$700,000 to $799,999 2
$600,000 to $699,999 6
$500,000 to $599,999 15
$400,000 to $499,999 30
$300,000 to $399,999 47
$200,000 to $299,999 37
$0 to $199,999 5

Source: www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/compensation/chronicle/chesurvey1105.pdft

Anonymous said...

I work at Albany Nanotech, so I'm getting a kick out of these replies.

Alain Kaloyeros is a unique guy. He is not your ordinary researcher or head of big research facility, so comparing his salary to those sorts of people isn't useful. He's basically built this huge facility. I don't know the history, but he's been at UAlbany for at least 15 years working towards this. While he is nominally a professor with a research group, his main responsibility is leading the college and negotiating deals to grow it. (These are big deals, millions to billions of dollars at stake.) This brings a lot of money to UAlbany, and the Albany area in general.

Evidently he's worth it. I suggest his would-be detractors offer evidence to why he isn't worth it.

Incoherent Ponderer said...

this is one of those "on one hand"/"on the other hand" things.

On one hand, this is JUST like college coaches or multi-million dollar a year endowment fund investment managers. If you want to attract top people, you gotta pay them market salary, otherwise they leave for some place else - a hedge fund, another college or pro team, etc.

On the other hand - there is no reason that skyrocketing of CEO salaries is driven by the market forces. While this guy is not technically a CEO, there may be a similar effect of salary escalation here.

So on one hand - you could probably make an offer to any top science manager from IBM/Hitachi/Lucent/HP, government labs or academia for half the money they pay this guy, and they would be very interested in the job. So if someone does an open search, I am sure they could attract all the top people with ~300K a year.

On the other hand, we are talking about a difference in pay that is barely enough to hire just a few scientists or maybe maintain a minor piece of equipment. In grand scheme of things, for multi-billion dollar facility with 2,000 employees, the savings are not worth arguing about. Difference between management and mis-management is worth many, many times that, and if the guy knows the facility inside-out and has all the right connections, then the facility can only benefit from someone like him.

Bottom line - I am only glad SOMEONE gets paid really well for having the right science background. Maybe like with A-Rod, it will only tip the payscales in favor of grunt-level scientists.

Incoherent Ponderer said...

Also - most universities function quite well regardless of who the president of the university is. In a way, they are a queen of england kind of jobs.

This facility, on the other hand, is a recent start-up, at the sink-or-swim stage. If things go well, Albany could be a blooming nanotech hub, or it could be - well, let's be honest - Albany.
(people from albany - I kid!)

as to governor of ny - state and federal official salary is immaterial here. How much a senator or president of US makes is irrelevant here also. Bill Clinton made 10 million in speaking fees last year - never mind his book royaltees - that's more than all presidents made in salaries since Eisenhower, combined.

hypnose said...

IP, if you are looking for someone who gets paid really wel lfor having the right science background, you are looking at the wrong places. You should look at Jim Simons. He made 2 billion last year alone. He is the 64th richest person in this country and the richest PhD and former professor in the world

Kun Gao said...

It's a so big challenge...