Inside Rensselaer
“Tech Valley Connect” Formed To Recruit and Retain Professionals
Academic institutions and technology companies in the Capital Region are often searching to bring talented scientists, engineers, designers, educators, and scholars with advanced degrees and established expertise to this area. The recruitment effort can hit a snag if no appropriate and exciting employment opportunity is available for the prospective employee’s spouse or partner. The majority of these prospective employees also have families that could use help getting settled and established in a new community.

To date, few resources have been available to these families or the institutions seeking to hire them. Most organizations work independently on these efforts, because a communitywide effort has not existed.

“Tech Valley Connect will help us hire more women into the faculty ranks,” Kaminski said.
“Women Ph.D.s often choose not to relocate unless their partners have excellent opportunities in the area. The ‘two-career’ issue has been a major roadblock in the advancement of women for decades.”

“A newly formed program, called Tech Valley Connect, is designed to fill this urgent need by providing these professionals with networking opportunities, information, and resources to ease the transition to our area,” said Deborah Kaminski, professor of mechanical engineering at Rensselaer and principal investigator of the grant that established Tech Valley Connect.

Rensselaer has joined together with regional companies and institutions of higher education to develop a support network for new professionals, often hired as professors and researchers at area institutions, and their families. The current members of the Tech Valley Connect program include Rensselaer, Albany Medical College, GE Global Research, Knolls Atomic Power Labs, Momentive Performance Materials, Ordway Research Institute, the Sage Colleges, Skidmore College, the University at Albany, Union Graduate College, Siena College, and Wadsworth Laboratories. The pilot program is being funded through a grant from the Elsevier Foundation, a corporate foundation that provides support for institutions in the global health and science communities.

Each member of the consortium commits to informational networking interviews for the spouse or partner, and to contributing to customized orientation services for families relocating to the area.

“This pilot is an important effort to improve regional hiring and retention of faculty, educators, high-level researchers, and administrators,” said Provost Robert Palazzo. “The goal is to enable the companies and universities that form the economic foundation for this region to build sustained relationships with new employees and their families, helping to keep these employees living, working, and prospering in our community while fostering discovery and the obtainment of new knowledge within our institutions.”

“The informational interviews will draw largely from other members within the consortium, as a majority of professionals are married to other professionals,” according to Angela McNerney, program director of Tech Valley Connect and the related RAMP-Up initiative at Rensselaer. “It will also help the family members of the prospective employees develop their own personal networks and career connections to the area.”

“Tech Valley Connect will help us hire more women into the faculty ranks,” Kaminski said. “Women Ph.D.s often choose not to relocate unless their partners have excellent opportunities in the area. The ‘two-career’ issue has been a major roadblock in the advancement of women for decades.”

This new program is related to the RAMP-Up program at Rensselaer, which is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and seeks to assist individuals, particularly women faculty, in developing their career trajectories. RAMP-Up workshops, mentorship awards, and programs explore barriers to advancement, with an emphasis on communication, advocacy, and advancement reform.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 2, February 5, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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