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“The emerging fields of nanoscience and nanoengineering are leading to unprecedented understanding and control over the fundamental building blocks of all physical things. This is likely to change the way almost everything — from vaccines to computers to automobile tires to objects not yet imagined — is designed and made.”— National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology
Nanotechnology. It has the ring of science fiction, but it’s a developing career path so dynamic that it has been identified by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the country’s top three emerging technologies over the next decade. Still in its relative infancy — only a quarter-century old — nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize science as we know it.
So how do you know if it should be part of your future? If you are already in or considering a career path in a science- or manufacturing-related field — including chemistry, biology, physics, medicine, engineering, electronics, telecommunications or semiconductor manufacturing — you should look at getting a foundation in the applications of nanotechnology.
The ability to earn a degree in nanotechnology is relatively new, with Richland College offering one of the few associate degrees in the area. Several Texas universities and colleges offer bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees with an emphasis in nanotechnology.
In simplest terms, nanotechnology is a field of related sciences in which everything operates on an incredibly small scale. Nanotechnology and nanoscience deal with structures having dimensions of between one and 100 nanometers — devices approximately 1,000 times smaller than are visible to the human eye.
The technology not only allows for the fabrication of structures and devices having molecular dimensions, but for the production of entirely new physical or chemical properties that emerge at such a size. But just how small is a nanometer?
To get an idea of the units of measure involved:
How small is nano-sized technology? Intel is creating circuits with 32-nano transistors — four million of which would fit into the period at the end of this sentence.
Though much of today’s nanotechnology is still in the research and development phase, developments for the near future will have dramatic applications in such diverse fields as medicine, information technology, manufacturing and national defense.The technology of the very small will have a huge impact on job growth and career opportunities, with the National Science Foundation (NSF) estimating that the worldwide need for nanotechnology workers will rise from the current 20,000 to 2 million.Learn more about nanotechnology and its current and future applications:
Richland College is the only one of the seven colleges of DCCCD to offer a program in Nanotechnology, with a Nanotechnology Associate in Applied Sciences degree. This degree prepares students to perform the duties of an entry-level nanotechnician in research and development and in manufacturing industries. It can be completed in two years if you are a full-time student but may take longer if you are also working.
Students pursuing four-year degrees in the sciences, engineering, electronics, semiconductor manufacturing or medicine may also consider the Nanotechnology associate degree as a point of emphasis to supplement their bachelor’s degree.