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Preparing for a Nanotechnology Career

Academic Centers Of Nanotechnology

Along with providing funding for nanotech programs, the government is promoting the development of a workforce educated in nanotechnology to take on future nanotech jobs. Accordingly, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has helped spur the establishment of nanotechnology centers in a number of universities across the country. The U.S. government has highlighted a handful of these programs, giving them the designation “Centers of Excellence in Nanotechnology.”

Many of the best academic nanotechnology centers are located in or near hot spots for the nanotech industry. The University of California has established nanotechnology centers on several of its campuses, including Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. In Massachusetts, Harvard University has brought together dozens of faculty members in creating its Center for Nanoscale Systems, in addition to other nanotechnology-related programs. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also has several nanotechnology programs. New York State has committed more than a billion dollars to nanotechnology research and development. This has benefited Cornell University, Columbia University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which boast some of the most prominent nanotechnology programs in the country. All three of these New York schools have been designated as Centers of Excellence by the federal government. In Texas, Rice University has distinguished itself as a research leader in nanotechnology, and it has established the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology. A number of nanotech companies—including Zyvex, one of the most successful nanotech start-ups—are based in Texas around Dallas, Austin, and Houston. In the Midwest, Northwestern University has established the Center for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies.

In most of these schools, the organization of the nanotechnology centers reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Harvard's faculty for its Center for Nanoscale Systems is drawn from ten departments, including physics, engineering and applied sciences, chemistry and chemical biology, Harvard Medical School, and others. The members of Rice University's faculty that are affiliated with its Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology include professors of anthropology, philosophy, economics, and religion, as well as the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

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