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The ABCs of AMD

In a science classroom at Ballston Spa High School on the morning of Friday, Oct. 17, junior Nick Gallo examined a smudge of sunscreen under the glow of a black light. Peering at the glowing glob, he made a notation on his lab handout.

Though it may seem like the typical science lab, Gallo is actually one of 33 Ballston Spa students taking a new course introducing a buzz-worthy field in the Capital District: nanotechnology.

The Ballston Spa School District first started considering the Exploration in Nanotechnology course in November 2007, and since then two science teachers, John Balet and Mike Potter, have spent their summers at places like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute boning up on the latest developments in the field. The result is a program that District Science Coordinator Diane Irwin says will give students the proper introduction to an industry that is likely to transform the area.

It's really going to give them exposure to the current fields of science and how it's applied, said Irwin. "It goes well beyond AMD, though they're a part of this."

Advanced Micro Devices energized the entire region with its commitment earlier this month to build a $4.6 billion microchip manufacturing plant at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta. In actuality, the factory will be built and run by a spin-off entity, the Foundry Company, comprised of AMD and the Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Technology Investment Company.

AMD officials have said that the facility " known as Fab 4X " will create thousands of jobs in the area, including 1,465 workers in the factory, pulling in an estimated $88 million payroll.

During an Oct. 10 presentation, AMD's Manager of Global Community Affairs Ward Tisdale said that around 300 of those jobs would be engineering-related and require at least a four-year degree, while about 500 would be filled by fab technicians with two-year degrees.

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