In recent communications, the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the USA has estimated that the world will require two million trained nanotechnologists by 2015. With only around 20,000 at present, this is going to be a hard target to achieve. (source: National Nanotechnology Initiative, NNI). Over the last eight years, Chicago-based NanoIink has demonstrated the ability to develop new tools for bench-top nanofabrication. With the NanoProfessor project, NanoIink will take this to the next level, a fully configured educational package.
The NanoProfessor project will develop practical resources for undergraduate education in precise technologies at the nanoscale. USA students will learn through hands-on experience, working with real equipment and integrated curriculum. The project will demonstrate a public-private partnership model to build a nanotechnology workforce in the coming years.
Companies that utilize nanotech processes in manufacturing are starting up. As these extremely precise technologies move from experimental to practical applications, a more broad-based nanotechnology workforce will be needed. Currently, the field is populated by Ph.D.’s with post-doctoral experience. The NanoProfessor project will demonstrate that effective, hands-on training in nanotech applications can be delivered to students much earlier.
Three elements define the NanoProfessor Project. The first is an accessible machine that is simple enough for general students to operate at the nanoscale. NanoIink has accomplished this with its nanolithography platform, the NLP 2000 system which was launched earlier this year at the Pittsburgh Conference. The second critical piece is a worthwhile curriculum grounded in fundamental science and engineering concepts. An interdisciplinary curriculum will engage students in basic science learning through hands-on manufacturing and experiments with cutting-edge technology at the nanoscale.
The curriculum is being developed by a team of teachers, NanoIink professionals and experts in instructional design. Each unit and the course as a whole will be evaluated during development and throughout implementation. The third element is the active participation of educational institutions committed to the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. The educational partners will host the project, receive training for faculty members, and cooperate in the evaluation and dissemination of project outcomes.
The total package is ideally suited to the teaching environment. The NLP requires no special clean room or facilities, and has easy to use software to control it. This means that for the first-time, hands-on nanolithography equipment that can be operated by an advanced high school student in a classroom. NanoIink will couple this instrument with other useful instruments such as a fluorescence light microscope and an educational Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) with consumables to further the hands-on teaching of nanotechnology. The entire package of a thorough nanoscience and engineering curriculum, and accessible hands-on nanofabrication instrumentation results in a nanoscale science and engineering education package NanoIink calls the NanoProfessor.
The first NanoProfessor system is to be installed for the new academic year at Dakota County Technical College under the stewardship of Deb Newberry, the Director of the NanoScience Program and also the Director of a newly funded NSF Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education, Nano-Link.
For the first time, the NanoProfessor will make 21st century education and workforce development in nanotechnology accessible to smaller four and two year college.
About NanoIink Inc.
Located in the new Illinois Science + Technology Park, north of Chicago, USA, NanoIink, Inc. is an emerging growth technology company specializing in nanometre-scale manufacturing and applications development for the life science and semiconductor industries. Using Dip Pen Nanolithography (DPN), a patented and proprietary nanofabrication technology, scientists are enabled to rapidly and easily create nanoscale structures from a wide variety of materials. This low cost, easy to use and scalable technique brings sophisticated nanofabrication to the laboratory desktop.