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Posted: Oct 15, 2012
Penn State receives $4.2 million for nanotechnology career development
(Nanowerk News) Penn State will receive $4.2 million over the next
three years from the National Science Foundation to continue the work of
the National Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge Network
(NACK Network), founded at the University with a four-year grant from the
NSF in 2008.
The NACK Network provides national coordination of workforce development
programs and activities on behalf of NSF in an effort to meet industry
needs for skilled micro- and nanofabrication workers.
"The continuation of NSF support reflects the successes the NACK Network
has achieved in working with industry and educational institutions in
finding ways to meet the growing needs for highly trained personnel," said
Stephen Fonash, NACK Network director and Kunkle Chair Professor of
The market value of U.S. products incorporating nanotechnology will total
$1 trillion by the year 2020, according to an NSF report, and
nanotechnology's share of the gross domestic product (GDP) will be 5.0
percent. The nation in 2020 will require 2 million people in the primary
workforce engaged in nanotechnology production.
"Jobs in nanotechnology demand advanced skills and critical thinking, and
offer the opportunity for so many 'gee whiz' moments that can excite
students, even in secondary schools," Fonash said. "To have faculty and
teachers who understand nanotechnology's workforce impact and who can
create these eye-opening moments, they must be trained and have
educational materials and equipment resources in hand, including
web-accessed and web-operated tools. NACK's objective is to create and
sustain these resources and to develop pathways from high school to
skilled manufacturing careers across the country."
The NACK Network is a working, productive nanotechnology workforce
development partnership involving educational institutions across the U.S.
The network's mission is to enable core-skills nanotechnology education at
two-year community and technical colleges and four-year universities and
colleges through partnerships with research universities. It emphasizes
broad student preparation and fosters sharing of such resources as course
lecture information and lab materials, workshops for curricular
development and faculty preparation, and industry-developed workforce
The NACK Network currently has hubs built on this concept of
nanotechnology education partnerships between a research university and
other post-secondary institutions in place in seven states and Puerto
Rico. Its Pennsylvania hub, for example, involves more than 30
undergraduate institutions and Penn State. Educators from all 50 states
have accessed and used NACK Network materials and services, which are
available at www.nano4me.org. A report by the President's Council of
Advisors on Science and Technology recently cited NACK's success in
"bringing meaningful core-skills nanotechnology workforce education to
technical and community colleges across the nation."