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New Product, New Engineers

EAW Electronic Systems, Inc., a Poughkeepsie design engineering and contract manufacturer for electronic and electro-mechanical assembly, is on the verge of introducing an innovative building automation system. The new technology, called an EMC 20/20, is used to control a building's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and will support industry standard communication.

As development of the EMC 20/20 concludes, commencement ceremonies were held a few miles across the Hudson River at Old Main Quad on the picturesque campus of State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz. Knowing full well the endless hours of probing and searching on Indeed and Monster awaiting them, graduates embraced the celebratory atmosphere upon reception of their degrees.

Mike Papesca, left, and RJ Pisani, right, pose for pictures at Commencement 2015 at SUNY New Paltz

However, for Adam Secovnie, RJ Pisani, and Mike Papesca, that celebratory mood has continued to this day, thanks to their internship with the Hudson Valley Technology Development Center (HVTDC). With the company, Adam, RJ, and Mike not only obtained hands-on training over the past year to round out their education, but they worked as the very engineers behind the creation of the EMC 20/20.

The process began when Ed Winiarski, Founder and President of EAW, contracted HVTDC for assistance on the building automation system. HVTDC staff thought it wise to quarterback a collection of interns with bold, fresh ideas, culminating in the completed building automation system.

While Mike has chosen to continue his education at SUNY New Paltz in pursuit of a master's degree in computer science, Adam and RJ have joined EAW on a full-time basis as electrical engineers. They will be responsible for ensuring the continued development of the EMC 20/20. Given the system's many potential applications, they are expected to continue to hone their skills, while building off their experience at HVTDC.

Adam Secovnie looks on at Commencement 2015 at SUNY New Paltz

Adam, hailing from Stuyvesant, a small town in Columbia County, began his internship with HVTDC in February, 2014 after hearing about the opening through the university's engineering department, before RJ and Mike followed suit.

The interns' responsibilities revolved around the building automation network communication protocols. They were immediately tasked with defining the eventual BACnet capabilities of the system, and worked on the embedded software for the system's network of wired and wireless sensors. This was while also developing embedded Linux applications to handle the data generated by the wireless and wired devices, leading to work on the cloud-based storage of the system and sensor data.

With their web interface redesigned, they embedded firmware for the expansion translator board. This expansion translator board allows EAW to make use of new sensors without requiring a complete redesign of their existing product. As a result, EAW has effectively expanded its market and upgraded to new technology to support industry standard communication. The controls are now BACnet compatible and support heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, security, and safety.

While EAW gears up for a sharp increase in business from new customers, HVTDC can feel proud that they provided invaluable opportunities for students. While fueling economic development, internships like those offered at HVTDC afford students direct experience to broaden their education and prepare them for the workforce. The classroom provides the theoretical knowledge, but practical knowledge can only be instilled by doing - not just hearing. The classroom's abstract theories become concrete when students are placed in real life work situations performing professional tasks. As a result, they are not only theoretically trained, but vocationally prepared to undertake real-world projects.

"I feel grateful to HVTDC for the experience I gained," said RJ, a Kearny, NJ native. It directly led me to my first employment opportunity."

RJ Pisani, left, and Adam Secovnie, right, working at their desks at the office of HVTDC

For his part, Adam understands the value in his time spent interning and working at a high level on key client-based projects. "While the engineering department at SUNY New Paltz provides a broad base of experience in many computer engineering related subjects, practice using the tools of the trade has been instrumental in growing my skills and confidence as an engineer," he remarked.

Post-graduation employment struggles are as real as ever, and Adam's mother, Anna, is proud of her son's rapid ascendance and evolution from student to hired electrical engineer.

"I am so happy to see Adam quickly apply what he learned," she said. "I believe his time at HVTDC gave him a greater insight into his future and kept him more challenged than he might have been without the internship. I am very impressed to see him be able to transition so quickly after graduation into an applicable job."

While RJ and Adam move on to full time employment, Mike's internship helped him in a much different but equally significant way. His decision to pursue a master's degree in computer science was conceived during his time at HVTDC. While his studies centered on electrical engineering, it wasn't until his internship when he realized his calling in computer science. His experience programming introduced him to a field he truly enjoyed, and inspired him to extend his education at New Paltz while continuing on as an intern with HVTDC.

Mike Papesca cheerfully walks off the stage at Commencement 2015 at SUNY New Paltz

For its part, HVTDC is able to leverage the interns and finalize projects at a more modest costwhile welcoming new ideas to the table to pass on to customers. Adam, RJ, and Mike are joined by five other SUNY New Paltz undergraduate computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering interns currently employed by HVTDC working on various projects for clients.

The emerging relationship between HVTDC and SUNY New Paltz is crucial as HVTDC becomes the vocational arm for engineering students. "HVTDC is a fantastic resource for the Hudson Valley, and definitely for SUNY New Paltz students," said Dan Freedman, Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at SUNY. "New Paltz students who intern at HVTDC get the opportunity to apply their engineering skills to real world problems that will help local companies. This is a critical stepping stone from an undergraduate education into an engineering career."

"The performance of the students clearly demonstrates that the engineering programs at SUNY New Paltz are producing top notch engineers that can compete successfully with the best of the best," added Bob Incerto, HVTDC's Senior Engineer who has guided and overseen the interns in the development of the product.

The future of manufacturing as an economic driver in the Hudson Valley as well as New York State is highly dependent on developing a continuous flow of our graduating engineering talent to pursue opportunities in manufacturing within the region. The innovative collaboration designed and implanted by SUNY New Paltz, EAW, and HVTDC demonstrates that goal can be accomplished when the public, private, and academic sectors join forces to achieve a common goal.

For more information on internships and engineering partnerships, contact HVTDC Business Development Director, John MacEnroe, at 845-391-8214 ext. 3004, or via email at john.macenroe@hvtdc.org.