Another high-tech success story is the Syracuse Research Corporation, a research and development company that spun off from SU in the 1960s. The 350-employee firm provides technical research, development, and engineering support to commercial and government clients. "We doubled in size in the past five years, and we expect to double again in the next five," reports John Vasselli, the company's director of corporate development. "In general, it's the explosion in information technology that's driving our growth."
Central New York's academic strength is also a major asset to the Syracuse Research Corporation. SU and SUNY ESF are important sources for human resources, Vasselli says. "And we do a lot of our research with SU and the SUNY Health Science Center (HSC)."
Syracuse's solid educational infrastructure is likewise essential to Coherent Networks Inc. The company's Smartmaps software indirectly grew out of a research project at SU and received a big assist from SU's CASE Center, an incubator for high-tech companies trying to get on their feet. The company now operates in Rochester, Chicago, Atlanta, and six cities in France, but its largest office remains in East Syracuse, where 85 of its 277 employees are based. About half of those local employees are SU graduates. "We could go anywhere," co-founder Chuck Stormon says. "But there's a lot of high-tech talent in Syracuse, and it is a challenging, fun place to work. It's not polluted, it's not crowded, and there are no earthquakes. The people here are nice, and the culture is pretty enlightened. What's not to love?"
Syracuse's Sensis Corporation, which has grown from 5 to 200 employees since 1985, is expanding at a pace of 30 percent annually, reports human resources director Margaret Dudarchik G'83. The company develops sensor systems for the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and their foreign counterparts. "Our founders came here in the fifties to work with General Electric Aerospace," Dudarchik says. "They were really impressed with the world-class wealth of technical talent in this community." Easy access to higher education strengthened the city's appeal. More than a quarter of the company's employees have SU degrees, most at the graduate level.
Doing things halfway isn't Marc Grossman's style. At SU, he wasn't content to be just a sports fan, so he dressed up as Otto the Orange and took the cheering to a higher pitch.
Nor was volunteering for the SU Ambulance service enough for Grossman. Those ambulance rides led to a career as an emergency medicine physician-an unexpected change of direction for a political science major.
After completing medical school at the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, Grossman is back in Syracuse as a first-year resident at University Hospital. He still cheers for SU, when his 80-hour-a-week schedule permits him to attend a game. He still acts a little like Otto to help his young patients relax. And he still helps out with the SU Ambulance service.
MARC GROSSMAN '93
Otherwise, Grossman is experiencing a new Syracuse from the perspective of a young professional. "As a college student, I was pretty isolated," he says. "At the hospital, I've come to appreciate the incredible cross section of people in this area. And I've met a whole new community of people my age. I have much more of a nightlife than I had in college. Armory Square is always packed on weekends. You run into everyone. It's great."
Grossman rents his University neighborhood apartment from a college friend, Robert Audet '90, who has his own packed schedule as director of the SU Ambulance service, part-time paramedic, and part-time M.B.A. student. "There's a tremendous number of outdoor activities around here," says Grossman. "But whenever friends go hiking or whitewater rafting, we're usually working."
Grossman, who grew up on Long Island, is considering practicing medicine in Syracuse when his residency ends. "My experience here has been very positive," he says. "I've met so many physicians who have been here for 25 or 30 years. They're happy, settled, and very successful. Their experience really encourages me."
A wealth of local medical and technical talent also inspired the recent construction of the $35 million Institute for Human Performance Research, Rehabilitation, and Biomedical Research at SUNY HSC in Syracuse. "This facility has the potential for measuring human performance with a level of precision matched by only a few institutions nationwide," says Ken Barker, provost at SUNY HSC. "It will help us attract nationally ranked scholars and prestigious research grants. On the top two floors alone we expect to generate $8 million to $10 million a year in research funds. Because of the synergistic effect, this facility will also attract companies interested in developing new technology."
That translates into dollars. According to Barker, every dollar invested in a research facility's infrastructure generates $5 in federal research funds and another $5 in economic development. "It's the ripple effect," Barker says.
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