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NSF gives Penn State center $5M to spread nanotechnology education nationwide

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The National Science Foundation will underwrite a nationwide expansion of Penn State’s highly acclaimed program for training Pennsylvania students to work in emerging industries in nanotechnology.

The $5-million grant over the next four years will allow the Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization at University Park to play the lead role in assisting other states with creation and development of similar technology workforce education partnerships. The center’s state-funded effort has become a national model.  

Now in its tenth year, the Nanofabrication Manufacturing Technology (NMT) program is the centerpiece of a statewide network of two- and four- year colleges, which prepares a Pennsylvania workforce with the skills to work in this growth sector of high-technology industry.  CNEU brings students from two- and four-year colleges from across Pennsylvania to Penn State’s main campus for a semester.  There, through a combination of classroom study and hands-on experience, they gain a foundation in nanotechnology manufacturing.

The state’s Department of Community and Economic Development has funded the Center since its origin in 1998, and the NSF has backed it as a regional center for advanced technology education since 2001. The center works with 57 degree programs in the Commonwealth through the Pennsylvania NMT Partnership as well as with programs for technology education in 20 other states.  About 30 large and small Pennsylvania-based companies with a focus on nano- and micro-technology advise the program.

“We’re teaching students how to fabricate at the nanoscale from the top down as it’s done in many electronic industries, as well as from the bottom up with chemical nanofabrication,” Robert Ehrmann, director of education and outreach, says.  “Our students are also learning about uses of nanotechnology in biology and how to characterize – or test and measure devices – at nanoscale.”

Source: Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization, Robert Ehrmann
Writer: Joseph Plummer

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