12 Jan Chippewa Valley Embraces Nanotechnology
Eau Claire, Wis. – Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) President Bill Ihlenfeldt told a news conference last week, that CVTC will begin teaching nanotechnology as early as September 2004 and that the region should prepare for sweeping changes and opportunities.
Jack Uldrich, nanotechnology author, consultant and president of the NanoVeritas Group, described “a shift of historic proportions” brought on “by the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular level,” one definition of nanotechnology.
Ihlenfeldt said that a proposed 80,000 square foot incubation center at CVTC’s Gateway Campus, could house fledgling nanotechnology and other firms. The CVTC president said the capital equipment and costs required by nanotech ventures could be shared by occupants.
“At least as important as holding down the costs would be the faculty with nanotechnology expertise,” Ihlenfeldt said. The incubation of ideas at the same center would be equally important, he said.
CVTC has received approval from the Wisconsin Board of Technical Colleges to investigate the feasibility of a two-year associate degree in nanotechnology.
The college president said CVTC is also exploring a partnership with Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, Minnesota, in which faculty and curriculum would be shared, and a final capstone semester might be arranged in cooperation with the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.
“(Nanotechnology) is not a science fiction or Star Wars topic anymore—it is here—it is already impacting our daily lives,” Ihlenfeldt said. He suggested that business must change in the Chippewa and St. Croix valleys and said advanced technology and manufacturing are needed for success.
Uldrich’s book documents a number of applications for nanotubes, submicroscopic tubes only a few carbon atoms thick. He points to a California firm that uses the tiny tubes to painlessly penetrate the skin of diabetics for glucose testing. Nanotubes are also being examined for application in faster computers, longer-lasting batteries and many other high-tech scenarios.
The introduction of nanotechnology, by some accounts, will have as much or more impact on the twenty-first century as electricity had on the twentieth.
Jim Mortwedt is the Communications Manager at Chippewa Valley Technical College. He can be contacted at JMORTWEDT@cvtc.edu.)