Director’s Message: Student Success Stories with Vivian (Ngoc) Vu

Vivian (Ngoc) Vu is a dedicated student pursuing the Photonics Certificate Program at Stonehill College. Despite challenges, Vivian’s hard work has enhanced her academic knowledge, opening doors to a career in high-tech manufacturing and highlighting the power of education.


I’m from Vietnam and came to the U.S. nine years ago. I used to work at a taxi company in Vietnam and now work at my aunt’s nail salon. I have an associate’s degree in accounting, and I’m currently enrolled in the Photonics Certificate Program at Stonehill College. When I finish this program in August, I will work at a high-tech job. I like to swim.

I saw an advertisement on Facebook about the Photonics Certificate Program at Stonehill College. It said that women, even 40 years old, could train to be technicians in this program and learn advanced manufacturing optics and photonics. It said that math and science backgrounds were not required and that we could become technicians to get a good job. It also noted that there was little homework, which I particularly liked. At the nail salon, there’s flexible time. It’s been rewarding to come to the Photonics Certificate Program at night.


I want to use what I’m learning in the Photonics Certificate Program and get a job right away. I want to learn more on the job and not go to college.

I have more knowledge and made friends. I know more about the U.S. because it’s very different from Vietnam. In Vietnam, you listen to the professor’s lecture. In the U.S., you ask the professor questions and read more about the topic.


Last month, it was most rewarding to attend and present at the TechConnect World Innovation conference in Washington, DC. It was good to talk with companies and learn what they do.

I liked the trips to tour companies. We visited AccuRounds, EMI, and IQE and saw equipment. We understood the work with machines and safety, entered a clean room, and put on personal protective equipment.

The Director of the Photonics Certificate Program, Cheryl Schnitzer, has helped me with many things, like finding funding, helping with my resume, and giving me more confidence to know that I can present at a conference and do this work. My professors have taught me about electronics, optics, lasers, photonics, and tools and materials for advanced manufacturing. Professor Peter Rice taught about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People during work and interviews, which have been very helpful in thinking and solving problems.


The English language is my biggest challenge! I work hard to listen and learn more words. When I read a book, I need to read it two or three times to understand it. Google Translate is only about 70% able to give the correct meaning. I still write in Vietnamese and then translate it into English.

If I ask questions, people will repeat them and try to help me overcome my language barrier, but I mostly learn English by myself.


I’m very busy at work in the nail salon and classes in the certificate program. However, I joined a Facebook group about soccer and swimming at The Y for exercise in the early morning.

This was the first time I joined a group. Now I read books and magazines more to learn.


I have become more connected with companies and people in this field. I am also part of Stonehill College’s LinkedIn Photonics group.


The equipment at Stonehill is excellent. Learn it and be confident using it. If you have a question, ask, and don’t be shy.

Talk with the professor and the students. Read about what you’re learning in class and watch YouTube videos to learn even more.


The program is outstanding, and I learned a lot about measurements and repairs. If something doesn’t work, I have the confidence and skills to make it work.

This program means an exciting high-tech job with benefits and opportunities to grow! I will complete the coursework in the certificate program on August 14th. I am applying now for jobs. I hope to work at 3DEO as a technician building airborne LiDAR mapping systems.


If you would like to learn more about MNT-EC or Nanotechnology or ways that community colleges are making a difference, please contact me directly here.

If you are interested in learning more about the Photonics & Optical Engineering Certificate Program at Stonehill College, email the director of the program, Cheryl Schnitzer or visit her LinkedIn profile.

If you want to read Vivian (Ngoc) Vu’s TechConnect World 2024 presentation from our Washington, D.C. trip, the PDF is here or you can download it just below the viewing window.


Director’s Message—Student Success Stories with Anton McFadden

Welcome to our new series, “Student Success Stories,” where we highlight students’ journeys who have made significant strides in their education and careers through community college. Today, we feature Anton McFadden, a community college graduate with an inspiring story. 

Anton-McFadden-_MNT-Directors-Message-Student-Success-Stories

You can learn more about Anton at this LinkedIn profile here.


Jared Ashcroft: Anton, can you give us a quick background about yourself and your educational experiences?

Anton McFadden: I graduated high school in 2013 and started at the Community College of Philadelphia in 2015, majoring in Cellular Molecular Biology. It took me seven years due to my desire to gain extensive research experience. My first job was as a lab assistant at the college, and now I’m pursuing my bachelor’s in biology at Cheyney University with plans for a PhD.

Jared Ashcroft: Why did you choose to start at a community college?

Anton McFadden: The financial feasibility and the personal attention at the Community College of Philadelphia made it an ideal choice. It provided a supportive environment with many resources and partnerships.

Jared Ashcroft: Have your academic and career goals changed since starting at the community college?

Anton McFadden: Yes, somewhat. While my ultimate goal was always a PhD, the community college illuminated additional pathways and connected me with people who supported my aspirations.

Jared Ashcroft: Who at the Community College of Philadelphia supported your academic progress?

Anton McFadden: Professor Linda Gerz offered me a job in the chemistry lab, which was pivotal. Other supportive professors included Professor Edward Miskiel, Dr. Catherine Malele, and Dr. Kerri Armstrong, who encouraged me to pursue higher education.

Jared Ashcroft: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your time at CCP?

Anton McFadden: The network of supportive peers and faculty was invaluable. Graduating and honoring the support of my professors, family, and friends was the proudest moment of my life.

Jared Ashcroft: Can you share a memorable experience at CCP?

Anton McFadden: Carrying out experiments and learning to think critically like a researcher was very rewarding. Adapting to different courses and excelling in them was also a significant achievement.

Jared Ashcroft: What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Anton McFadden: Financial challenges were significant, but scholarships and my job in the chem lab helped. Understanding coursework was also challenging, but office hours and support from professors made a big difference.

Jared Ashcroft: What extracurricular activities were you involved in?

Anton McFadden: I was part of the International Students Association, which raised awareness about international students’ challenges. I also worked as a cleanroom assistant in the nanotechnology center.

Jared Ashcroft: How did the MNT-CURN program benefit you?

Anton McFadden: The networking opportunities were crucial. The program exposed me to various fields and helped me develop valuable skills through interaction with professionals and peers.

Jared Ashcroft: What advice would you give to new or prospective community college students?

Anton McFadden:

  1. Don’t give up.
  2. Take the first step, and everything else will fall into place.
  3. Communicate with your professors and peers, and utilize available resources and support.

Jared Ashcroft: What are your plans, and how did CCP prepare you for them?

Anton McFadden: I plan to pursue a PhD after completing my bachelor’s at Cheyney University. The confidence, skills, and training I received at CCP were instrumental in preparing me for this journey.

Jared Ashcroft: Thank you, Anton, for sharing your inspiring journey with us. Your story is a testament to the value of community college education and its impact on one’s career and personal growth.

If you would like to learn more about MNT-EC or Nanotechnology or ways that community colleges are making a difference, please contact me directly here.


Director’s Message—Introducing a New Series on Student Experiences in Community College

We are excited to announce a new series under my Director’s Message section, focused on showcasing the achievements of our students in the fields of micro and nanotechnology. This series aims to foster a closer connection between students and our institution and, more importantly, to the broader community.

Sample cover for Student Success series by Jared Ashcroft

Here are three titles we’re considering, but please email me with suggestions and ideas. 

  • Student Conversations: Exploring Micro and Nanotechnology Successes
  • Student Voices: In-Depth Conversations on Micro and Nanotechnology
  • Voices of the Future: Conversations with Students in Micro and Nanotechnology

Mission: Highlighting Student Experiences

Our mission is simple: to highlight the unique and inspiring experiences of students at our community colleges within the MNT-EC network of schools. Students are the heart of our mission, and their stories can inspire others and provide valuable feedback to our institutions and programs.

Starting this summer, we will feature conversations between myself and various students. This pilot initiative will run throughout the summer and could continue as a regular feature if successful. We believe that student voices are crucial in shaping our community and educational practices, and we want to provide a platform for them to express themselves. Of course, part of our hope is these conversations also will help inspire new students to consider nano as a career. 

Student Testimonials

In this series, you’ll hear directly from students about their journeys. We’ll include quotes and short stories from those who have already shared their experiences with me, giving you a taste of what to expect. These testimonials will highlight the most rewarding aspects of their time here, memorable experiences, and the support they’ve received from faculty and staff.

We hope to engage existing students to participate in this initiative. Students can share their stories through a detailed process we’re setting up, whether it’s through a form, email, or a phone/Zoom call. Participating in this series will not only allow students to share their experiences but also connect with a larger community and inspire their peers.

To make these stories more vibrant and relatable, we plan to add photos of students engaged in various campus activities and, if possible, short video clips. Visuals will help bring their stories to life and make the blog posts more engaging. 

We invite our readers to engage with this initiative by emailing me or sharing their own experiences on various social media platforms in response to our posts. Additionally, we might include interactive elements like polls or surveys to gauge reader interest in different types of student stories. Based on insights from our annual review and analytics work, we know that highlighting peers and professors significantly drives interaction on social media and the blog.

Closing Thoughts

Each blog post will conclude with thoughts from me, or MNT-EC Team members, emphasizing the importance of the student community to our institution’s mission. We believe that showcasing these experiences will highlight what’s possible at a community college and demonstrate that student experiences are central to our mission.

We are eager to launch this series and share the inspiring stories of our students. Stay tuned for the first conversation coming soon!

Director’s Message—Committing to Meaningful Change in Our DEI Journey

Working within the CHIPS and Science Act space has highlighted a gap in the last year—Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) often feels more like a checkbox for funding than a genuine commitment to our Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC) programs. Let’s change that. It is time for DEI to reflect on our actions as much as our applications. By focusing on realistic, actionable steps, we can ensure our MNT workforce becomes more diverse and inclusive. Let’s make it a genuine part of building the future, not just a requirement to meet.

A photorealistic image that represents a diverse classroom setting, with icons or imagery reflecting technology, mathematics, and cultural elements. Created by Midjourney AI with the above terms.
Image Created with Midjourney

Editor’s NOTE: Please see link at end of post for various DEI Resources.

Given the anti-DEI sentiment in society, we need to have a renewed focus. Over the past year, 81 anti-DEI bills have been introduced nationwide, and eight have become law. MNT-EC wants to support an inclusive nano education and workforce pathway. We’re about more than just science; we’re about bringing together people from all walks of life from various marginalized and underrepresented identities to innovate and push nanotechnology forward. Let’s face it: these stats do not paint a great picture, but we know the best ideas come from diverse minds working together. 

  • Only 26.7% of tech jobs are held by women, showcasing a significant gender gap within the industry.
  • Racial diversity in tech is low, with Black Americans holding 7% of jobs, Latinx Americans 8%, and Asian Americans 20%, despite more concerted efforts to improve these numbers.
  • Tech executives in the United States are overwhelmingly white, at 83.3%.
  • A notable pay gap exists, with women in tech being offered, on average, 3% less salary than men for equivalent roles.
  • Compared to the general industry, the high-tech sector employs a higher percentage of white workers (68.5%) and Asian Americans (14%) but fewer Black Americans (7.4%) and Latinx Americans (8%).

Bringing DEI into the heart of engineering and nano means we’re not just teaching subject matter for nano; we’re building a community that mirrors the real world. It also means that we acknowledge and hope to challenge structural oppression in society (e.g., racism, sexism, classism). With initiatives that open doors for everyone, we’re making sure the future of nano is as diverse as the world around us.

And with the big push from the federal government’s CHIPS Act, we’re on the brink of a new era in tech. This isn’t just about keeping America in the lead; it’s about ensuring the lead is held by a team as diverse as America. Further, the CHIPS Act presents an opportunity to think meaningfully about equity and play a role in creating a more equitable and diverse workforce. 

We hope that MNT-EC will be part of a collective effort, across the entire USA (and the world) where we focus on DEI in a meaningful way. I wrote this in January: Director’s Message — Nano Education: Inspiring the Next Generation. 

It is worth noting that the U.S. Department of the Treasury examined wealth and income inequality, and the CHIPS Act offers the opportunity to expand access to higher-paying jobs for underrepresented groups. In the new DEI section, we link to the article Racial Inequality in the United States | U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Adding to our vibrant conversation on making nano education more inclusive, MNT-EC is taking things further. We’re assembling a DEI resource library with downloadable PDFs, YouTube videos, Articles, and other resources. Some resources have come from our educator network and helped develop what you will find there. Whether you’re looking to expand your professional skills or become more informed, this library is here to help everyone grow. If you know of an excellent resource or document, please get in touch.

We want to see the future of nano as broad and inclusive as the community we serve. It’s about creating spaces where everyone can find something valuable, learn from it, and contribute. With this library, MNT-EC leads toward a more inclusive, knowledgeable, and connected nano community.


In our DEI resource section, there are three excellent resources to look for in addition to a collection we continue expanding. You can click on the screenshot to the left or the text link below.

  1. Washington University’s Diversity Success: A real-world success story from Washington University, published in the Harvard Business Review, showcases the deliberate strategies to create a diverse and thriving academic department, proving that intentional effort can lead to significant positive change.
  2. Hidden Curriculum in Engineering Education: This piece illuminates the often-unseen forces shaping student experiences in engineering, emphasizing the need for awareness and action to support all students, especially those from underrepresented groups.
  3. The Equity Excellence Imperative is a visionary blueprint for making equity a cornerstone of excellence in undergraduate education. It offers practical strategies for creating a more inclusive and high-achieving academic environment.

Find PDFs and more on the MNT-EC Diversity Equity Inclusion – DEI Resources Page.


Special thanks for guidance and insights in this DEI post to:

  • Dr. Jalil Bishop is a critical qualitative scholar with expertise in college affordability, student debt, anti-racist policymaking, and the racialized geography of life opportunity. 

You can read more about them in a 2023 post about their national recognition as MNT-EC Evaluators.

Director’s Message — Celebrating Student Success: Stories


Over the last four years, the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) and its partners have dedicated themselves to advancing the nanotechnology field through comprehensive educational programs. At its core, MNT-EC’s mission revolves around nurturing the next generation of nano professionals, focusing on students from community colleges. 

NOTE: Don’t miss the video at end of post!

Highlighting Student Achievements 

MNT-EC’s success is highlighted by its vibrant student programs and achievements.

  • Over 100 student interns in the Micro Nano Technology Collaborative Undergraduate Research Network (MNT-CURN)
  • Four Barry Goldwater Scholars
  • Winners of the American Association of Community Colleges Innovation Challenge
  • Winner best chemistry poster at the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science 
  • Over 50 community college published authors in peer reviewed journals

MNT-CURN Research Students 

The MNT-CURN program showcases the real-world value and impact of student research internships. Through MNT-CURN, students engage in cutting-edge research, contributing valuable insights and innovations to nanotechnology. The program highlights MNT-EC’s commitment to providing practical, hands-on research experiences that prepare students for rewarding careers.

Goldwater Scholars 

Among its accolades, MNT-EC celebrates the achievements of students awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. This prestigious scholarship is a testament to the high caliber of students MNT-EC nurtures, recognizing their potential to contribute significantly to mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering research. 

Take, for example, the story of four dedicated MNT-CURN students, Rachael Orkin, Celina Yu, Janet Teng, and Sophia Barber; plus a MNT-CURN student mentor Justice Robinson, who were awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. This scholarship is a nod to their outstanding potential in STEM fields, recognizing their innovative research and academic dedication. 

AACC Challenge Winners 

MNT-EC’s students have also distinguished themselves in the AACC Challenges, demonstrating their problem-solving prowess and innovative thinking. These victories highlight the students’ talents and the quality of education and mentorship provided by MNT-EC. It’s a recognition of how the center’s programs are increasingly aligned with the industry’s needs and challenges.

SACNAS 

Cal Poly student and Pasadena City College alum Tan Nguyen recently garnered the Best Poster Presentation Award in the General Chemistry Category at the 2023 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Diversity in STEM Conference held in Portland, Oregon.


MNT-EC’s alums are emerging as nanotechnology leaders, mentoring new generations and enriching the field with their innovations. As we look forward, MNT-EC is committed to broadening its educational programs and research initiatives, aiming not only to keep pace with the rapid advancements in nanotechnology but also to foster industry growth and workforce development. 

We want to celebrate the achievements of our dozens of students across our many partner institutions, whose successes in initiatives like MNT-CURN, Goldwater Scholars, and various other programs underscore MNT-EC’s vital role in elevating nanotechnology education and setting new benchmarks for excellence. We also would like to invite our community college partners to participate in MNT-EC student initiatives to support your students. Ultimately, MNT-EC wants to provide community college students a chance to achieve outcomes that will support their advancement into MNT industry jobs and better prepare them for future education and workforce needs. Email me to learn more.


MNT-CURN student / mentor perspective

Director’s Message — Nano Education: Inspiring the Next Generation

Anthony Francis returned to New York for school after spending his childhood on the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia. See how collaborative projects, rich mentoring, and skillful networking helped Anthony secure a job in Mechatronics- a top 10 emergent technology.

In the United States, vocational training and apprenticeships are often undervalued compared to university education, even though they can lead to high-paying and in-demand careers. This trend is particularly evident when considering the evolving and critical field of nanotechnology education. 

A 2020 report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, titled ‘The Overlooked Value of Certificates and Associate’s Degrees,’ reveals a striking insight: many high-paying and in-demand careers in the U.S., including those in the burgeoning nanotechnology sector, do not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree. 

Yet, these alternative educational pathways, crucial for preparing the workforce for a nano-driven future, are frequently overlooked due to prevailing societal attitudes and a need for more awareness among students and their parents. As we look towards 2031, with an estimated 72 percent of jobs in the U.S. requiring post-secondary education and training, it becomes imperative to reevaluate and promote the role of specialized training, particularly in nanotechnology, to meet this demand. Between 2021 and 2031:

  • There will be 18.5 million job openings per year on average.
  • 12.5 million of these annualized openings will require at least some college education
  • Of these, a significant portion of these jobs will be accessible through associate degrees (13 percent), which often serve as a stepping stone to further education or directly into specialized careers. 

Emerging Trends in Nanotechnology Education

As the Principal Investigator of MNT-EC, I have witnessed firsthand the burgeoning significance of nano education and its pivotal role in shaping the future workforce. This post focuses on the idea that we need an increase in the number of nano students everywhere to be successful and provide for a new CHIPS Act workforce. 

We want community college to be more than only a degree; it is about crafting a visionary pathway for our students, illuminating the possibilities that nano presents. Educators, you are the architects of tomorrow, and through your dedication, we can inspire a new generation to explore this exciting frontier. You play a critical role in student recruitment. 

As I wrote last month (Link at the end of article), community colleges and universities currently offer a spectrum of nanotechnology programs. However, a palpable disconnect exists between academic curricula and the dynamic needs of the industry. We have used our MNT-EC Community of Practice as one way to open up deeper conversations. 

We must critically assess and bridge this gap as we delve into the landscape. It is essential to understand that while our efforts in education are commendable, they must evolve continuously to mirror the rapid advancements and specific demands of the semiconductor and nanotechnology sectors. 

Engaging the Next Generation

Today’s youth and career changers are at a crossroads, seeking paths that lead to fulfillment and innovation. Data from organizations like NIIT and SEMI shed light on their aspirations and the challenges they face (the most obvious one is that 4-year programs are more expensive than 2-year ones). 

As educators, we must understand and address these diverse needs, ensuring the nanotechnology field is an inviting and viable option for all, regardless of their background. 

Bridging the educational gap requires a nuanced understanding of the distinct paths for technicians and engineers. (I discuss this in more detail in the Director’s Message link below if you are interested. Please feel free to reach out by email to share your input and ideas with me.) 

Our curriculum must not only meet industry standards but also embrace the unique academic journeys of each role. By integrating practical skills and real-world applications, we can align our educational offerings more closely with the needs of the industry, ensuring that our students are not just learners but future innovators. We prepare them for some of the many options they might have with certificate programs, 2-year or 4-year degrees. 

The pedagogy of nanotechnology needs a makeover, to some degree, as much innovation as the field itself. Engaging teaching methods, augmented by technology and virtual labs, can cater to diverse learning styles and bring the microscopic world of nano into vivid reality. 

Collaborations with industry enrich the curriculum and provide students with invaluable insights and opportunities, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. Collaborations often equal Internships, but not always. 

There are undergraduate research programs and other creative ways students can gain experience from and with industry. The MNT-CURN program has dozens of student mentors and researchers within our national center. Scalable Asymmetric Lifecycle Engagement (SCALE) at Purdue University is one of the preeminent U.S. programs for semiconductor workforce development in the defense sector. (Links below.) 

The nanotechnology industry is in a state of constant flux, and so the skills required to navigate it must evolve at the same pace. Identifying and nurturing these competencies is crucial. From critical thinking to technical expertise, we must prepare our students for today’s careers and tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

Commitment to Diversity and Community

In the realm of nano education, diversity and inclusion are not just ideals but necessities. The CHIPS Act requires thousands of workers, and we will find exceptional workers if we actively dismantle barriers and create learning environments where every student can thrive regardless of their background. We can cultivate a community representing the world it seeks to innovate.

Networking, mentorships, and peer support are the cornerstones of a robust learning community. We can enhance the educational experience by fostering these connections and providing students with the guidance and support they need to succeed in nano. 

Our role extends beyond instruction as we stand at the forefront of educational innovation. We are the catalysts for change, the mentors for the next generation of nano pioneers. It is time for us to embrace continuous improvement, to adapt and thrive in our methodologies, ensuring that our students are prepared for the future and ready to shape it. 

If any of this post sparks your interest, please get in touch and join the conversation. We welcome your ideas and contributions. 

* * *

Resources 


More about the post image:

Anthony Francis returned to New York for school after spending his childhood on the small Caribbean island of St. Lucia. See how collaborative projects, rich mentoring, and skillful networking helped Anthony secure a job in Mechatronics- a top 10 emergent technology.

The featured image is found on ATE Student Success Stories page which “highlights the struggles and triumphs of a diverse set of students in community and technical college settings. With support and guidance from ATE centers and projects, their lives and careers have been changed for the better. Each video documents a unique success story, but all of them have a common theme: technician training has the power to change lives.”

Image Credit: ATE Central and the Internet Scout Research Group


Director’s Message — Building Robust Collaboration At Community Colleges

ATE's MATEC Networks National Resource Center A technician participating in a MATEC Networks National Resource Center professional development course checks a critical dimension.

In the rapidly evolving field of nanotechnology, the concept of ‘collaborative innovation’ becomes increasingly significant. The National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program from the American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition stands as a testament to this, highlighting the indispensable power of community in this dynamic sector. 

As the Principal Investigator of MNT-EC, my engagements with leaders across government, academia, and industry have not only illuminated their crucial roles in education and workforce development but also mirrored the collaborative essence of the SEMI and ASA partnership.

These collective endeavors, spurred by the landmark CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, are pivotal in our shared mission to regain global leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and secure long-term economic competitiveness for the nation.

The Importance of Community 

The maxim, “it takes a village,” is essential (and exciting, frankly) as we invite young people and those new to the field to navigate this intricate landscape; the need for robust networking, effective mentorship, and collaborative efforts is vital. As a related aside, the MNT-EC actively mentors and guides the next generation, fostering the broader goal of creating an innovative nano culture.

This blog post ventures into these essential areas, offering insights and strategies to reinforce connections. By nurturing these relationships, we not only enhance collaboration but also unlock the potential for groundbreaking innovation and more effective solutions to our industry’s pressing challenges.

The Need for a Collaborative Approach – What’s Different?

In addressing the pressing challenge of a disconnect between educational institutions and industry needs, our initiative aligns with the goals of the ASIC work and SEMI-ASA partnership. This alignment is critical, especially considering the focus on revitalizing semiconductor research and manufacturing in the U.S. and the collaborative model set forth by SEMI and ASA.

Engineers AND Technicians

Let me share an example on the value of both engineers and technicians. We may forget or not realize how often they work together. They need each other. Such is the case for 2-year colleges and 4-year colleges, each usually training only one of these careers; we need each other. 

At Pasadena Community College, I have been involved in many transfer student success stories. My two-year students graduate and transfer to four-year schools, most often engineering programs. In some cases, students complete their two year degree or certificate and start a technician-level job immediately. But they later inform me of how their company is paying them to upskill, either with more certificates or transferring in later to a four-year college. 

The synergy between engineers and technicians is crucial. Engineers rely on the practical insights and expertise of technicians to realize their designs in the real world. Technicians, on the other hand, rely on the theoretical and design expertise of engineers to understand the broader context of their work and to implement solutions effectively. This collaboration is essential for innovation and efficiency in almost every field – from the military to complex fields like semiconductors. We need this synergy at the community college and four-year college levels.

Community colleges, pivotal in bridging the gap towards an engineering degree, must navigate the complexity of simultaneously preparing technicians for the workforce, as well as preparing transfer students for entrance into an engineering program at partner universities. Our approach advocates for more responsive communication and authentic partnerships within the micro nanotech education ecosystem.

This partnership would provide for a centralized partner, such as ASIC or the ASA to foster synergy among community colleges and K-12 educators, within the university system, while also providing support in connecting community colleges to industry partners, and government bodies. The partnership’s mission would be to align education with industry needs, particularly in the nanotechnology sector, and create a seamless pathway from education to employment. Current initiatives have striven to provide this space but have limited K-12 and community college partners, whose voices are essential if we are to successfully prepare our students for the workforce or enter university MNT education pathways.

Our effort within the MNT-EC National Center is to evolve current initiatives in synergy with the objectives set by the NAPMP and the SEMI-ASA partnership. By focusing on advanced semiconductor packaging and workforce development, we aim to complement the efforts made by our university partners, many who oversee initiatives driven by the CHIPS for America Workforce and Education Funds. Practical steps that can be supported by these efforts are:

  1. Facilitating Regular Interdisciplinary Workshops and Strategy Sessions: These sessions would bring together stakeholders to discuss challenges, share insights, and develop unified strategies for workforce development.
  2. Developing Collaborative Projects: Joint research and curriculum development projects would be a cornerstone of the partnership, providing practical experience to students and valuable insights to industry partners.
  3. Pooling Resources and Funding: The initiative would explore innovative funding models to support its efforts, reducing resource competition and maximizing impact.

Together, we can build a future where education aligns seamlessly with the industry’s needs, reflecting the SEMI-ASA partnership’s collaborative spirit and the strategic objectives of the NAPMP. 

We invite educators, industry professionals, and policymakers to join us in this endeavor, contributing to a workforce that is as diverse and innovative as the field of nanotechnology itself. 

Our collective effort is vital for maintaining the extraordinary benefits of providing an advanced micro nanotechnology education and ensuring economic and environmental sustainability in U.S. domestic manufacturing.


Community & Resource Links

American Semiconductor Academy Initiative | SEMI

Vision for NSTC — American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition (ASIC)

Dean’s note: The CHIPS Act: A call to action – Berkeley Engineering

American Semiconductor Academy (ASA) Initiative and SEMI Partner to Bolster Microelectronics Industry Talent Pool | SEMI

American Semiconductor Innovation Coalition (ASIC)

CHIPS Act includes new support for workforce training, providing opportunities beyond R&D for higher education | Berkeley


More about the post image

ATE’s MATEC Networks National Resource Center

A technician participating in a MATEC Networks National Resource Center professional development course checks a critical dimension.

Supported in part by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program, MATEC Networks’ National Resource Center provides venues for creating, sharing and promoting digital resources and faculty professional development for semiconductor manufacturing, automation, electronics and micro–nanotechnologies.
Credit: ATE Centers Impact 2016-2017 via the NSF Multimedia Gallery.