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Nov 07

Nano-Link Conference 2015

The 2014 Nano-Link Conference in Minneapolis (http://www.nano-link.org) focused on nanoscience/ nanotechnology education. I Miguel) attended to learn about teaching nanotechnology in high school. Here is some of what interested me:

Karen Arnold of Nanocopoeia (http://www.nanocopoeia.com) said a great high school project would be anything that requires students to define a problem, design an experiment, execute it, and then prove their results. It would not have to be nano to be useful to her nano company. The qualities her company looks for in employees are technical skills, analytical skills, critical thinking, curiosity, teamwork, and fearlessness. Her company has an every Friday “lunch & learn” during which someone introduces a new idea, nano or not, and teaches everyone else about it.

Justin Patten of Hysitron (http://www.hysitron.com) looks for these key skills: instrumentation, statistics, technical knowledge, problem-solving, attention to details, precision, reliable, motivated, passionate, willing and able to learn, and be the master of something. He told stories about how applicants often think that they know how to be precise, but nano is a whole ‘nother level of precision. Justin recommended developing a diverse background. For instance learn tech and marketing or graphic arts, or information technology and nano. It will make you much more valuable.

Joseph Ward of RJA Dispersions (http://www.rjadispersions.com) looks for this in potential employees: math and chemistry labs, the ability to create formulas in spreadsheets, follow a recipe, get down and dirty (there’s no such thing as “it’s not my job”), learn new skills quickly, understand process, diagnose problems, propose solutions, be creative, get comfortable with trying out new things, identify needs and volunteer, understand company goals, be ready to grow, (always stretching), and have fun with it.

Vincent Ijioma of Boston Scientific (http://www.bostonscientific.com) described his career into and through nanotechnology. He provided many interesting examples of how the very definition of nanotechnology has been confused, and is even feared. By not advertising them as such, he has used his nanotechnology and nanoscience skills to create “miracles.” When asked how he would teach nano to high school students, he said to make nano instrumentation merely tools in the service of a greater project. Once the challenge is properly structured, instructors could shift from lecturing to facilitating students’ access of tools such as SEM or AFM.

The speakers have been skilled at using humor and stories to convey a great deal of technical and business information.

See Day 2 of the conference: http://nanoconnections.org/nano-link-2015-day-2/

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