The Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC)

Micro- and nanotechnology enhances the performance of thousands of commonly used devices. For example, micro- and nanotechnology is used to make components of electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, wearable activity monitors, and medical sensors. It is also used to improve products, such as making tennis balls that last longer, cloth that repels water, and bandages that prevent bacterial growth. As micro- and nanotechnologies are increasingly used to improve products and create new ones, micro- and nanotechnology industries are expected to experience double-digit growth into the foreseeable future. Consequently, a highly skilled technical workforce is needed to keep pace with the demands of and the changes in micro- and nanotechnology industries. To support preparation of this workforce across the United States, this project will establish and support the NSF Advanced Technological Education Program's Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC). The MNT-EC will directly increase the numbers of community college faculty participating in micro- and nanotechnology technician education, thus supporting an increased number of students who receive technical education degrees and certificates in micro- and nanotechnology fields. As a result, this project will support preparation of a skilled technical workforce in a field that has enormous impact on the nation's economy, security, and health. 

This project will be led by Pasadena City College in collaboration with Edmonds Community College, Portland Community College, and Northwest Vista College. In addition, the MNT-EC will connect existing micro and nano NSF ATE Resource Centers (NACK, SCME, NEATEC, and MatEdu). As a result, MNT-EC will leverage a broad set of expertise to prepare a nationwide skilled technical workforce for manufacture of micro and nano products. Each member of the MNT-EC will bring resources, such as cleanrooms, educational materials, and remote operation of lab instruments, to support and inform the development of a common curriculum for associate degrees and certificates in micro nano technologies. The content of this curriculum will be informed by the needs of industry members and be updated via annual reviews between academic and industry members. The faculty of the academic institutions will remain current in micro- and nanotechnology innovations via periodic workshops or webinars across the various specializations (such as safety, fabrication, operations) provided by the academic and industry members. The MNT-EC will map where the micro- and nanotechnology industry is greatest and where it is growing and promote adaptation of the MNT-EC curriculum at regional two-year institutions near these locations.

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