News Release: SUNY Poly Awarded $198,000 by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to Support Awareness and Enhancement of Maintenance Efforts Across Numerous Sectors

News Release: SUNY Poly Awarded $198,000 by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to Support Awareness and Enhancement of Maintenance Efforts Across Numerous Sectors

Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - 10:24
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Dr. Russell

For Release: Immediate – December 12, 2018
Steve Ference, Director of University Communications
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Grant awarded to SUNY Poly in collaboration with Virginia Tech to
further research and connections between leading maintenance advocates

UTICA, NY – SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) announced today that SUNY Poly Dean of Arts & Sciences Andrew Russell has received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to address the chronic neglect of maintenance, a deep-seated societal problem which has been in the national spotlight as a result of the efforts of Dr. Russell and his collaborator, Lee Vinsel, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology & Society at Virginia Tech. Together, they have organized academic conferences on maintenance and written broadly on the subject, such as an op-ed for the New York Times titled “Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance!” as they seek to impress upon academics, political leaders, and society as a whole the need to continue to support efforts to sustain infrastructure.

“On behalf of SUNY Poly, I am thrilled to congratulate Dean Russell for his important joint research which has not only been recognized by the Sloan Foundation through the awarding of this grant, but is also a reminder of how maintenance is a necessary counterbalance to a singular focus on novel development,” said SUNY Poly Interim President Dr. Grace Wang. “This award highlights how SUNY Poly’s expert faculty, in partnership with other faculty at leading research institutions, often play a powerful and unique role in advancing critical areas such as maintenance while simultaneously highlighting the strength of our institution’s intellectual diversity.”

The nearly $200,000 award from the Sloan Foundation will expand Dr. Russell’s collaborative work by connecting researchers and scholars—including Drs. Russell and Vinsel—with maintenance professionals in a variety of industries. As part of the effort, the two partnering researchers will also partner with Katherine Skinner and Jessica Meyerson at the Educopia Institute, a non-profit organization that specializes in fostering collaboration among cultural, scientific, and scholarly institutions.

“There is a chronic neglect of maintenance in all walks of contemporary life, and I am excited to receive this grant in partnership with Dr. Vinsel and Virginia Tech to continue to enhance education about this issue and work to reinvigorate the conversations that surround maintenance using SUNY Poly’s critical resources,” said Dr. Russell. “Symptoms of the neglect of infrastructure and resources are everywhere, from potholes to chronic train delays and lead-poisoned water systems in cities such as Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey. Support from the Sloan Foundation will help us connect maintainers from different sectors with professionals and advocates who understand that maintenance work is fundamental for a healthy society.”

The funding from the Sloan Foundation will support the creation and growth of two “communities” responsive to the challenges raised by the need for better understanding and implementation of maintenance. The first group consists of “information maintainers,” such as archivists, open source software developers, records managers, librarians, and data preservation experts, who can play a key role in understanding the scope of the problem and are able to provide up-to-date information about the success of maintenance efforts, or the need for a greater focus in certain areas, for example. The second group consists of “maintainers in the workforce,” and will include scholars, analysts, and policymakers who specialize in workforce training, compensation, and the macroeconomic aspects of maintenance work across a variety of sectors. With the support of Educopia, Russell and Vinsel will work with these groups to document best practices and common problems and communicate those lessons across different maintenance communities. The team plans to organize several more communities in areas where the neglect of maintenance has high societal costs, such as urban infrastructure, transportation, and health care.

“Our project is really about enhancing awareness and sharing knowledge about maintenance between disparate communities that likely aren’t talking,” said Dr. Vinsel. “The Sloan Foundation’s support will enable us to do this much more effectively, especially with the help of experts at the Educopia Institute. We’re so excited to see what we’ll learn, and I look forward to continuing our invaluable partnership with SUNY Poly.”

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the Foundation makes grants in three broad areas: direct support of research in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics; initiatives to increase the quality and diversity of scientific institutions; and efforts to enhance and deepen public engagement with science and scientists. For more information about the organization, visit




About SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly)

SUNY Poly is New York’s globally recognized, high-tech educational ecosystem. SUNY Poly offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience and nanoengineering, as well as cutting-edge nanobioscience and nanoeconomics programs at its Albany campus, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology, including engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, and the engineering technologies; professional studies, including business, communication, and nursing; and arts and sciences, including natural sciences, mathematics, humanities, and social sciences at its Utica/Rome campus; thriving athletic, recreational, and cultural programs, events, and activities complement the campus experience. As the world’s most advanced, university-driven research enterprise, SUNY Poly boasts billions of dollars in high-tech investments and hundreds of corporate partners since its inception. For information visit