Nanotechnology is constantly impacting society through the field of nanoelectronics and large numbers of nanotechnology-based products in other fields, such as health care, automotive and transportation, safety and security, and home and leisure. The existing Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network will transition to the NACK Support Center with the objective of continuing to support U.S. nanotechnology workforce education. The NACK Support Center will employ its community and technical college (CC)-industry-research university (RU) partnerships to carry out: 1) resource sharing among CCs as well as among CCs and RUs; 2) dissemination of learning materials that deliver a core set of industry-recommended nanotechnology skills; 3) live-streaming of professional development webinars; and 4) creation of more effective approaches for disseminating resources and expanding dissemination methodologies through a NACK website with added services and enhanced functionality.
NACK will carry out its work by: continuing to support and develop new nodes in the Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN) Network; adding new online-accessible characterization and processing tools; developing ways to increase awareness and usage of RAIN resources; and collecting data and statistics to evaluate RAIN's impact on nanotechnology education. Through a partnership with the industry standards organization ASTM International, NACK educational materials from its six core-skills courses will be institutionalized into industry standards. This partnership will allow students and working technicians to earn up to 6 stackable ASTM certificates with worldwide industry recognition via ASTM-administered tests based on these core courses. By continually updating core-skills course material and adapting it to online delivery via videoed lectures and labs, and by growing on-line course and equipment accessibility, educational opportunities will become increasingly available to highly diverse secondary and post-secondary level populations. The NACK Support Center's planned outreach to veterans and underrepresented student groups will address a key need to recruit these groups for advanced STEM education, and broaden nanotechnology awareness in general. Business outreach and the stackable certificate program will promote technician careers and visibility among a broad range of industries.