North Seattle Community College continues to do groundbreaking work in nanotechnology education and outreach, through its certificate and AAS degree (as the first college in the region to offer a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in nanotechnology) and through establishment of a Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education.
New NSF Grant Continues and Expands SHINE
This summer North Seattle Community College was named a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education Regional Center for Nanotechnology Education with a grant of a little under $3 million over four years. This center allows North to expand on the work accomplished over the past three years through a previous NSF Advanced Technological Education project grant.
The Regional Center, called Seattle’s Hub for Industry-driven Nanotechnology Education (SHINE), will work with academic, industry and government stakeholders to promote awareness of the principles of nanoscience and to serve the current and future needs of nanotechnology industries by expanding the diversity and number of trained nanotechnologists in the region (Washington, Oregon and Idaho).
SHINE Processes – Past and Future
Alissa Agnello, MS, lead faculty for the Nano program, describes SHINE: “Since the SHINE project was established in 2009, we have done enticement activities and engagement activities. The enticement activities are mostly outreach-based, with over 10,000 high school students, middle school students and public introduced to nanotechnology. We have also led annual summer workshops for educators to help them bring nanotechnology into their classrooms. The engagement activities improve our nanotechnology program at North — matching students with internships, purchasing equipment so students can gain hands-on experience with these tools, and arranging guest lectures, lab tours, and informal lunches on campus for students to network with nanotech-experts from industry and academia.
“As SHINE becomes a regional center, we will continue all of the enticement and engagement activities but will expand our reach throughout the entire Pacific Northwest region. We hope to make people more informed about nanotechnology and draw prospective students into North’s nanotech program. The new SHINE center will provide scholarships for students who choose to relocate to the Seattle area for three quarters of nanotech training.
“As a regional center, SHINE will connect nanotechnology stakeholders throughout the region – current and prospective nanotech students, grades 6-12 educators, universities and community colleges, national labs, industry, economic development groups and the public. This will not only enhance communication between these groups, but ensure that North’s program is meeting industry needs and standards and that people looking for jobs know where to come to get trained.”
Outreach to Future Nanotechnologists
Program outreach has targeted groups underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which includes women. The program will continue targeting underrepresented groups while also focusing on recruiting veterans and displaced workers. As Maureen Devery, SHINE outreach manager, describes, “As SHINE grows into a regional center, outreach efforts will serve all of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, but will narrow the focus to high school students who are closer to making post-secondary decisions (and more ready to feed the pipeline into nanotech industry). SHINE is looking to increase the number of students studying nanotechnology but not necessarily interested in pursuing a four-year degree before job hunting. A week-long nanotechnology camp for high school students will begin in the second year of the grant, offering lab tours and hands-on experiences.”
Nanotech Students Choose Diverse Paths
Some graduates of the nanotech program have transferred to four-year universities; others have sought employment. Companies that have hired NSCC grads include EnerG2, RJC Enterprises, Microvision, Carbon NanoProbes and Silicon Designs. Some students enter the program already holding a degree in a related field, pursue the one-year certificate in nanotechnology, and go on to graduate school. Students say a highlight of the program is the nano/microfabrication course, in which students do weekly labs in a cleanroom at the UW.
Hands-on training in the nanotech lab on campus will increase with installation of several advanced microscopes that work at the nano-scale: a scanning electron microscope (SEM); a laser scanning confocal microscope (LSCM) and an atomic force microscope (AFM). Lab Manager Peter Kazarinoff is also testing a remote user function, where students could access and run the microscopes from a computer, miles from campus.
Graduates Praise the Nanotechnology Program
The nanotech classes at NSCC are small, which gives you a great chance to work closely with your instructors, and we develop wonderful public speaking/ presentation skills. The instructors also have close connections with the UW so we have hands-on experience working at the high-tech laboratory there. This is quite a privilege — normally only graduate students at UW have this opportunity. Also, we get to pick our internships. I started at UW Bioengineering, where I would like to apply for the PhD program. I got great references, and I was even offered a research engineer position at the end of my internship. Each day I use the theory/skills I learned in the nanotechnology program at NSCC.
Research technologist, UW Bioengineering Department
My desire to make solar technology and semiconductors led me to the Nanotechnology degree program at NSCC. I interned with the Research Education for Undergraduates at the Nanotech User Facility (NTUF) at UW, performing work on par with graduate-level research. My experiences at NSCC and the NTUF put me in a poll position to intern with the major semiconductor manufacturer, Micron, during the summer after my junior year. Without the nanotech program, I would not have found the road into and out of chemical engineering at UW so easily, with multiple job offers waiting at the end.
Nanotechnology AAS, Chemical Engineering, UW
Nanotechnology Program Overview
• Two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Nanotechnology
• One-year Certificate in Nanotechnology
• Transfer pathway to UW undergraduate concentration in nanotechnology
• Partnerships with growing nanotech industry and local universities, including UW
• State-of-the-art facilities and lab practices, plus access to UW labs, internship opportunities
• Participation in SHINE outreach activities
• Active Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), with members from local companies
• Curriculum including courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, electronics and an introduction to materials science
Because nanotechnology reaches across many disciplines, North has the opportunity to introduce students to concepts and practices that apply in healthcare, electronics and many other fields. As a regional center, we will be widening our influence with industry while reaching out to young people and laying the foundation for further STEM study in higher education.
Mary Ellen O’Keefe, EdD
NSCC Vice President for Instruction