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Wisconsin colleges secure funding for nanotechnology

Eau Claire, Wis. - Three northwestern Wisconsin colleges are on the verge of delving deeper into the scientific field of nanotechnology, and perhaps producing a labor pool for state businesses that enter it.

The colleges, with help from the National Science Foundation grant worth $217,795, are putting the finishing touches on a nanotechnology curriculum that will help students explore the world of molecule-sized machines.

"Nanotechnology is still in its infancy, and it holds great promise for major advancements in all areas of our lives, from medicine to the clothing we wear," said UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen, in a statement.

Nanoscience technology refers to the manipulation of matter at the molecular and atomic scale. Thousands of nanoproducts already have been brought to market, and thousands more are in development. The NSF estimates that an international nanotechnology market of $1 trillion will emerge by 2015.

The nanoscience curriculum is being jointly written and will add the final semester to Chippewa Valley Technical College's four-semester "Nanoscience Technology" degree program. Students will travel among three campuses to take advantage of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's materials science center, the CVTC's high-end microscopy lab and clean room, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout's focus on nano-biotechnology.
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"The expertise of each institution is being utilized to educate graduates locally and to contribute to economic development in the region we serve," said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich.

Hans Mikelson, a nanoscience instructor at CVTC, professors Doug Dunham and Marcus McEllistrem of UW-Eau Claire, and professors Forrest Schultz and Stephen Nold of UW-Stout will take part in the curriculum-writing project.

In July, CVTC received approval from the Wisconsin Technical College System to begin building a $5 million NanoRite Center to be located at its Gateway Campus in Eau Claire. The center will house firms that require facilities for ultra-small machining, or microfabrication.

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