- Nanotechnology 101
- Nanotechnology and You
- About the NNI
- What is the NNI?
- The NSET Subcommittee
- NSET's Participating Federal Partners
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- National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO)
- Contact Information
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- Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives
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Goal Three Objectives
Goal 3: Develop and sustain educational resources, a skilled workforce, and the supporting infrastructure and tools to advance nanotechnology.
As detailed in the NNI's Stragegic Plan, the objectives for this goal are as follows:
3.1 Initiate, develop, support, and sustain programs for educating, training, and maintaining a skilled nanotechnology workforce.
The demand for technicians and research scientists to work in nanotechnology-related industries is anticipated to increase with the maturation of a number of nanotechnology-enabled products and processes. With the support of NNI centers, colleges and universities have been offering undergraduate minors and majors, teacher training, and postgraduate programs in nanoscale science and engineering. In order to prepare high school graduates for careers in nanotechnology-related industries, the NNI member agencies will work collaboratively to support the development of K–12 STEM (and related, including biomedical) curriculum standards and articulation plans that incorporate problem-based and integrative teaching, where appropriate. International standards and best practices (e.g., for safe handling of nanomaterials in the laboratory, as described in Goal 4) will help to inform these developments. Information on nanotechnology and nanoscience-based career opportunities and workforce needs will strengthen the pursuit of this objective. Online resources should be utilized to help disseminate information about nanotechnology careers and formal education programs in nanotechnology.
3.2 Initiate outreach and informal education programs and publish related information to foster a student population, workforce, and public who are well informed about the opportunities in nanotechnology-related industries and the potential impacts of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) and ethical, legal, and societal implications (ELSI) of nanotechnology.
The information technology (IT) revolution reached the public through its use in virtually all aspects of our lives. Whereas “IT” has become a commonplace term associated with specific applications, the technology behind nanotechnology-enabled products may result in tremendous enhancements or entirely new product properties that might not be explicitly referred to as “nano.” Multiple communication tools (e.g., print media, online webcasts and podcasts, museum exhibits, and special events) will be used to achieve this objective.
3.3 Provide, facilitate the sharing of, and sustain the physical R&D infrastructure for nanoscale fabrication, synthesis, characterization, modeling, design, computation, and hands-on training for use by industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, and state and Federal agencies, by:
- 3.3.1. Determining the current capacity and inventory of tools, facilities and supporting infrastructure, and staffing and services that are available, and determining the capacity requirements up to the year 2020.
- 3.3.2. Developing, operating, maintaining, and sustaining highly advanced tools, infrastructure, and user facilities (including investment, staffing, and upgrades).
- Robust nanotechnology R&D and technical advancement will require the support of a state-of-the-art physical infrastructure that is widely accessible. The specialized capability, equipment, and structures needed for nanoscience R&D are prohibitively expensive for small enterprises and educational institutions. Sustained and predictable access to a broad range of state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities for synthesis, processing, fabrication, characterization, modeling, and analysis of nanomaterials and nanosystems, including bio-nanosystems, is needed to achieve this objective. In most cases, no single researcher or even single institution can justify funding the acquisition of and support for all necessary tools, and therefore user facilities that provide access to researchers from multiple sectors, including academia and industry, serve a critical role. Such facilities have the ability to co-locate a broad suite of necessary nanotechnology tools, to maintain these tools at the leading edge, and to provide staff with expertise to ensure the most productive use of the tools. In addition, they provide an outstanding setting for hands-on training of nanotechnology researchers.
- The extensive infrastructure established by the NNI over the past ten years will be upgraded and sustained based on evaluations of the need and capacity requirements. International best practices will be incorporated into the current infrastructure, as appropriate. Extensive publicity and dissemination of information will help to reach the nanotechnology sector, especially small and medium enterprises, to ensure that this infrastructure is accessible to all and well utilized.