Nanotechnology Degree Programs with Government Alliances and Funding

Although the private sector is getting involved in nanotechnology education, both state governments and the U.S. Federal government see the need for a much more robust nanoworkforce in the next few years.

According to Justine Johannes, senior manager in material science and engineering at Sandia National Labs, “We want to increase American competitiveness in nanotechnology. We want students to [pursue] degrees in engineering or science by exciting them with compelling problems and offering them the opportunity to make real progress toward solutions.”

One example of a state-funded program is the ACC NanoScholar Internship Program. This program is funded by the State of Texas to give students a chance to get experience working in nanofabrication and nanotechnology research and development labs. Their model is to offer paid internships at the two-year technical, undergraduate, and graduate levels.

The U.S. Federal government is seriously invested in nanotechnology. As an important step in government involvement in nanotechnology education, in 2007 Congress passed the America Competes Act. This act spells out requirements for funding Innovation Institutes, which focus on science and engineering education with a goal of increasing the competitiveness of the United States in these areas.

These Innovation Institutes are associated with the National Institute for Nano-Engineering (NINE). NINE has a goal of putting nanotechnology in front of students to gain their involvement and to address three key themes: nanoelectronics, nanoenergy, and nanomaterials manufacturing.

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The entities associated with NINE reads like a corporate and educational who’s who, including Corning, Exxon Mobil, Goodyear, IBM, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rice University, the University of California at Davis, Harvard University, MIT, Purdue, the University of Illinois, the University of New Mexico, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Texas — Austin, the University of Wisconsin, and Yale University. Sandia National Labs will coordinate the program.

NINE was created in response to the National Academies report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." This report states that the United States has to encourage technical education in college or risk falling behind developing nations in the number of scientists and engineers it produces.

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