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Training U.S. Workers for Nanotech Revolution Is No Small Thing

And before any Solyndra comparisons are made, let me explain why this is different.

by
Howard Lovy

Bio

November 7, 2012 - 10:46 pm
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When it comes to nanotechnology, the folks over at Penn State get it. Back in 2008, they launched the Nanotechnology Application and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network using a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation. They recently received another $4.3 million to continue to develop the workforce that will be needed for nanotechnology industry workers.

The South Bend Tribune recently ran an excellent story with more details on the career network and what Ivy Tech is doing with the $165,000 it’s been awarded to join the NACK network. The Tribune reports:

The new program will allow students to devote a full summer immersed in nanotechnology studies, said David Brinkruff, dean of Ivy Tech’s Schools of Technology and Applied Science/Engineering. Some students may choose to pursue the full two-year nanotechnology associate’s degree program, and others may just attend for a summer study immersion and major in another field, he said.

There may not be immediate demand for nanotechnology technicians in this region, but there will be as the field continues to grow, Brinkruff said. “We’re ahead of the demand,” he said.

“It will allow people to be able to gain skills in an area that is going to become very important to the local economy,” he said. More here

Public-private partnerships in the Albany, NY, area are starting to pay off, with the University at Albany’s NanoCollege helping to supply workers to the region’s burgeoning nanotech industry. In Albany, nanotech means electronics. At Research Triangle in North Carolina, the universities are feeding trained nanotech workers into the region’s pharmaceutical industry.

So are U.S. workers prepared? Well, we’re getting there. Still, as Gwyneth Shaw reports in the New Haven Independent, it’s all a bit piecemeal, with some states doing better than others in forcing the workforce-training issue.

It will take a true public-private partnership, on a national scale, to prepare U.S. workers for what’s next. If not, well, other nations are already filling in the gap.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage assembled from multiple Shutterstock.com images.)

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Howard Lovy is a Michigan-based freelance writer who specializes in science, business and innovation. He has been covering developments in nanotechnology for more than a decade.
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