Newest NSF ATE Center Focuses On the Future in Micro Nano Technology Education (MNT-EC)

Jared Ashcroft, PI and Center Director, MNT-EC, Pasadena Community College and Billie Copley, Nano-Link Center for Nanotechnology Education

Microsystems and nanosystems technologies are becoming, if not already, pervasive throughout the daily human experience. The internet of things is expected to support a trillion micro-nano devices. Examples of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) include pressor sensors, microphones, accelerometers, time-keeping devices, photonic devices, and medical instrumentation. The growth and convergence of these technologies will expand for the foreseeable future as the miniaturization and integration processes continue. With this growth comes the need for a hi-tech workforce, and that workforce requires an education that keep pace with rapidly advancing technologies.

In response, Pasadena City College, in collaboration with the Edmonds Community College, Portland Community College, and the Northwest Vista College, will lead the National Science Foundation ATE program ‘s Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC). The MNT-EC will connect existing micro and nano NSF ATE Support Centers, community colleges, four-year universities, and non-profit laboratories in an effort to focus on the preparation of a nationwide micro- and nanotechnologies manufacturing workforce. Each member of the MNT-EC team brings their resources (such as cleanrooms, educational materials, remote operation of lab instruments) to bear on the development of a common curriculum for associate degrees and certificates for the micro- and nanotechnologies. The curriculum content will be informed by the knowledge-skill-ability needs of industry members. Included in center activities are opportunities for faculty to increase student engagement through distance education and community outreach and to participate in professional development workshops and hands-on activities. With experienced ATE leaders from the Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge Network, the Support Center for Microsystems Education, and the National Resource Center for Materials Education among others partnering with the MNT-EC, MNT curriculum will be embedded in community colleges across the nation to increase the impact on and participation of their STEM faculty. For more information on the activities of this new NSF ATE Center, contact Jared Ashcroft.

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