The Midwest Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education (Nano-Link) builds upon the success of Nano-Link's first three years. Nano-Link has had broad and significant impacts across the Upper Midwest. During the next 3 years the center is providing resources and support to additional colleges along the Midwest corridor from North Dakota to Michigan as they develop nanoscience and nanotechnology programs and courses. Participation is being expanded from the current six community colleges and the University of Minnesota to a total of 16 community colleges at varying levels of effort and support, along with the addition of Michigan State University as an affiliate four-year institution. Nano-Link's sharing of curriculum, resources and services with multiple colleges is helping to prepare skilled technicians so that there is increased nanoscale science and technology and economic growth in the region.
Nano-Link has also expanded its industry network from the original 30 Minnesota companies to 88 companies located throughout the Upper Midwest. This number continues to grow as Nano-Link helps additional colleges build strong industry networks to support their programs. This effort provides strong industry-led input for validating educational objectives, supporting nano education programs, providing internships and hiring graduates.
MISSION. Nano-Link builds public awareness and institutional capacity for nanotechnology education programs that prepare skilled nanoscience technicians to work in the emerging fields that drive the economy across the Midwest Region.
GOALS. During the renewal period, Nano-Link is focusing on the following five goals: 1. Strengthening industry participation to ensure an industry-relevant curriculum producing nano-savvy students, workforce-ready graduates and companies ready to hire them. 2. Developing nanotechnology modules for multiple uses across multiple organizations. 3. Growing nano programs through recruitment and outreach improvement with a special emphasis on veterans and Native American communities. 4. Continuing to improve nano programs in order to maximize student retention and success. 5. Delivering professional development to high school and college faculty that prepares them to effectively educate their students in nanotechnology.
THE INTELLECTUAL MERIT of this project is based on continuing to expand and improve a multidisciplinary nanoscience technician education curriculum in an emerging field of science and engineering, which can greatly impact our nation's competitiveness and future job growth in many industries. Nano-Link is also further expanding its coordinated partnerships among regional educational institutions and industries that enable these colleges to offer quality nanoscience educational programs and courses. Building on the success of this effort, important elements of this curriculum are being integrated into the technician education curriculum of other ATE Centers. Nano-Link's ongoing partnership with the University of Minnesota and its National Center for Nanotechnology Instrumentation ensures that Nano-Link has access to state-of-the-art laboratory instrumentation and insight into the most current aspects of nanotechnology research and nanotechnology applications. Nano-Link's close collaborations with industry partners ensure that training meets current and anticipated industry needs.
THE BROADER IMPACT of this project is based on the coordinated replication/adaptation of a multidisciplinary Nanoscience Technology program for technician education at community and technical colleges throughout the region as well as expansion of nano curriculum modules to other NSF ATE Centers and their affiliated students and instructors. Nano-Link's high school and college STEM instructor outreach activities directly impact thousands of students in the Upper Midwest. The focused effort to train veterans and Native American students through culturally-appropriate outreach can benefit these under-represented groups. Nano-Link is dedicated to providing high quality educational programs preparing nanoscience technicians to meet the emerging needs of industry for the benefit of society.