This project establishes the Pacific Northwest NSF ATE Regional Center -- Seattle's Hub for Industry-driven Nanotechnology Education (SHINE). It builds on an ATE project that, since 2009, has developed extensive connections with academia, national labs, and industry throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Taking the next step to formally expand SHINE's work into a Regional ATE Center brings even greater benefit to the nano-rich Pacific Northwest region.
The field of nanotechnology is growing rapidly -- regionally, nationally, and worldwide -- and is becoming incorporated into virtually all science and engineering fields. As a result, nanotechnology is quickly becoming an integral part of our nation's economic future. A study funded by the National Science Foundation estimates that six million nanotechnology workers will be needed worldwide by 2020, with two million of those jobs in the United States. Despite these trends, current exposure to nanotechnology principles and concepts is largely absent across the K-12 and undergraduate formal education system. It is critical that our middle and high schools, as well as far more undergraduate serving institutions, become involved with instructing tomorrow's workforce about this growing scientific field.
As a Regional Center, SHINE addresses this need by: 1) engaging the public through hands-on informal Nanotechnology learning events; 2) expanding access to nanotechnology within the formal educational system, through both professional development for educators and direct work with students; 3) increasing the effectiveness of North Seattle Community College's two-year nanotechnology program to ensure a highly qualified and diverse Nanotech workforce -- introducing advanced instrumentation into the lab and increasing the program's diversity; and 4) coordinating closely with industry and education stakeholders to establish a coherent nanotechnology career and education pathway in the region -- including the establishment of multiple articulation agreements and launching new introductory "NANO 101" courses at partner institutions.
The Center serves as the leader of nanotechnology collaboration in the region, providing industry, educators, researchers, youth organizations, and the general public a point of contact and a resource for connecting to other nanotechnology stakeholders. SHINE also serves as the destination for interested students from across the region to enter into and pursue formal undergraduate nanotechnology education -- providing an educational pathway that exists nowhere else in the Pacific Northwest. SHINE's two-year college program at North Seattle Community College continues to expand, preparing graduates for immediate technician-level employment or for transfer to a 4-year institution to pursue an advanced degree and serving as a model and a resource for other nanotechnology programs in the region.
SHINE's extensive outreach programs, particularly marketing to groups underrepresented in STEM, and the ambitious impact targets that have been set, demonstrate a commitment to serving the entire Northwest region. SHINE's professional development Train the NanoTrainer program has a cascading effect, as participating educators bring nanotechnology to their students for years to come. The curriculum modules that are used for training (a combination of SHINE-developed and previously created units, drawing from several NSF-funded sources) are being disseminated widely through active participation at conferences and via the SHINE website. As a Regional Center, SHINE further enhances the national infrastructure for nanotechnology education by actively partnering with the National ATE Nanotechnology Center and several other Regional Centers in other parts of the US. These collaborations support the expansion of innovative educational strategies, such as providing remote access to instrumentation and developing new instructional labs that integrate research into training and learning.
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