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Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

LAVC Joins Universities With Nanotechnology Offering

Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), in collaboration with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), is offering a course for the first time on the cutting edge topic of nanotechnology a curriculum usually reserved for more advanced institutions of higher learning. Nanotechnology for business purposes involves manufacturing material at the atomic molecular level. Nanotechnology, a word derived from the root word nanometer referring to one billionth of a meter, will allow scientists and engineers to build “atomically precise” materials by being able to control millions of atoms with precision. Nanotechnology is expected to foster a growing field of employment in industries such as medical, space, military, manufacturing and computers. LAVC is offering an introductory course called “Electronics 201- Introduction to Nanotechnology,” and there are no “IQ prerequisites” required to enroll, according to the description of the course. Deborah diCesare, dean of economic development at the college, said she wanted to make sure that LAVC could create an opportunity for students to take advantage of the nanotechnology course to prepare for future employment demands within the field. She said that over the next decade, the nanotechnology field will employ over 2 million workers nationally filling technical and non-technical positions within the field. “Nanotechnology will be a trillion dollar industry,” DiCesare said. LAVC Professor of Nanotechnology George Gorecki said nanotechnology is “like working with Lego pieces while wearing boxing gloves.” Ronald A. Reis, chair of the Electronics Department at LAVC, said that the nanotechnology introductory course is the first of its kind at LAVC and is very new to the community college arena. He said that it is usually a graduate level study. “As industry grows, there will be scientists on one side and technicians on the other,” said Reis. “That’s where LAVC fits in.” Reis said the electronics department is mainly geared towards producing technicians who will be able to install, maintain and repair equipment in the electronics field and then utilize the nanotechnology courses by providing some insight to research lab scientists and industries who are interested in nanotechnology development. Gorecki said that as the nanotechnology program progresses at LAVC over the next few semesters, the electronics department staff will provide a job placement program for nanotechnology students looking to get hired by California technology companies. Future courses “The next step at LAVC will be to create two more advanced classes in nanotechnology,” said Gorecki. He said that implementing a certificate and an A.S. degree in the nanotechnology program will take some time. Gorecki mentioned that companies in California, now being referred to as “The Nano-Republic,” will be looking to hire in the future students who possess training in nanotechnology and molecular science. Some of the companies that may be hiring are listed on a website called tinytechjobs.com. They include Microfabrica Inc. a microdevice manufacturer in Burbank, and, Applied Materials, a supplier of products and services to the global semiconductor industry, located in Santa Clara. “We’re going to take it slow and gauge the industry,” said Reis. “Nano-tech jobs look like they will be available in California,” said Edmund Plawsuk, an electronics technician major at LAVC. Plawsuk said that he is taking the nanotechnology course because he is interested in biomedical instrumentation. Gorecki said that in the future there will be a shortage of scientists and engineers, and if we can turn students on to nanotechnology, the progress toward it will be quickened. “There is lots of money in this field,” said Gorecki. “China and India are putting big money into nanotechnology; however the U.S. should lead in the effort.” Fiona M. Goodchild, education director of the California Nanosystems Institute at UCSB, said that currently the UCSB nanotechnology program has been offering community college science and mathematics students a two week summer research and training program called Expanding Pathways to Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (EPSEM). “Community colleges are a good place to find new talent,” said Goodchild. Goodchild said that the LAVC introductory course is something very different and needed for a community college. Goodchild also said that USCB would like to extend its current program called Internships in Nanosystems Science, Engineering and Technology (INSET), to the LAVC nanotechnology students. “The more students we can educate the better for the nanotechnology-field,” said, Wendy Nishikawa, Executive Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CSNI) at UCLA. Nishikawa said that the UCLA-CSNI program is planning to provide fellowship awards to community college mathematics and science students. “UCLA is hard to get into, but I’d love to get in,” said, nanotechnology student Louis Borden, who is an electronics major at LAVC. Borden described nanotechnology by comparing it to Star Trek. “When the Star Trek crew would need tea, they would push a button and the machine would replicate the tea at the molecular atomic level,” said Borden. “The class is very interesting yet the curriculum is hard,” said Vladimir Ramirez, an industrial electronics major at LAVC. “Nanotechnology is something I never dreamed of.”

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