MNT-EC Partners with National Registered Apprenticeship Program

Caption: National Institute for Innovation and Technology and the Micro Nanotechnology Education Center partner for apprenticeships.

The National Institute for Innovation and Technology (NIIT) and the Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC) today announced a collaboration focused on workforce development for the semiconductor sector and nanotechnology-related industries. 

With the agreement, MNT-EC colleges will have access to NIIT’s National Talent Hub, which connects employers, education providers, job seekers and individuals looking to improve related skills. Colleges will be able to use the Talent Hub free of charge to ensure courses align with industry requirements and give their students access to the service’s job portal.

Students enrolled in MNT-EC programs will be eligible for “learn-and-earn” opportunities through NIIT’s Growing Apprenticeships in Nanotechnology and Semiconductors (GAINS) Registered Apprenticeship Program. NIIT has the exclusive, 5-year contract to expand the use of Registered Apprenticeships in the strategic supply chains of semiconductors and nanotechnology, which includes biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and clean energy, among others.

You can read the full national press release here.

Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center Inspires Students

As water and ice destroyed the ship’s hull, the crew of the famed HMS Endurance, abandoned the ship and began their 25-day journey back to civilization under Sir Ernest Shackleton’s leadership. The Endurance sank on October 27, 1915 and was all but lost for the last 107 years. 

Lost. That is, until a team of scientists found it on March 9, 2022 using submersibles and undersea drones in the Weddell Sea (on the Northern top of Antarctica). For any students of history, exploration, and adventure, the finding of the wooden ship at roughly 10,000 feet deep in icy waters is an exciting discovery. 

What Gets Students Interested in Research and Technology?

It is stories like this one, finding the HMS Endurance, that inspire future and current scientists and explorers. Although the remotely operated vehicle used in the MATE ROV competition is a very basic version of the Saab Sabertooth drone that was used to locate and photograph the long-lost ship, the same scientific and mathematical concepts apply and are part of the STEM focus that the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center strive to teach. MATE is a resource center funded by the National Science Foundation and headquartered at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC).

According to the website, “The MATE ROV Competition is an underwater robotics challenge that engages a global community of learners each year. This year, the MATE ROV Competition is highlighting the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and inspiring our global community to embrace environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts to create a sustainable future on our ocean planet. The competition is challenging its community to design and build an ROV and the necessary sensors and tooling to support work to combat climate change, provide clean energy, feed our growing global population, monitor ocean health, preserve our maritime history, and ‘deliver, together, the ocean we need for the future we want!’”

Working together, NCAT (MNT-EC Partner) and MATE have re-imagined the 2022 MATE ROV Competition to include a virtual world that enables students and mentors from around the globe to experience the competition even if they can’t participate in person. As it did last year, the 2022 MATE ROV Competition VR World will facilitate the social interaction, peer-to-peer networking, and shared experience that students value and appreciate most about the competition – and are especially craving during the time of this pandemic.

Pasadena City College Care Bears Underwater ROV Team

In the 2022 annual MATE ROV (remotely operated vehicle) Competition at Long Beach City College this year, the Pasadena City College “Care Bears Build a Sub” student team that won third place at the event (photo above). Kudos to all of the students, staff, and faculty who made this a great adventure. Sir Ernest Shackleton would be glad to know that his ship was not lost forever thanks to generations of students who made remotely operated submersibles a reality.

Dr. Jared Ashcroft Recognized for Commitment and Passion for Student Success

If one thing captures Dr. Jared Ashcroft, it is this quote from him in a recent ATE Impacts article: “If I see an opportunity that looks like I can impact students, I want to do it and figure out a way to support it,” he said.

The article explains how, in “early 2021 Jared M. Ashcroft opened an email announcing the Community College Innovation Challenge (CCIC) to the Advanced Technological Education community. “Oh, that looks really fun,” was his assessment of the linked website’s description of the national competition that the American Association of Community Colleges offers in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

“When he told his chemistry students at Pasadena City College about the contest and the opportunity to win cash prizes for innovative STEM solutions to real-world problems, four students formed a team and asked Ashcroft to be their mentor. Mentoring took his time – an hour or two at a time over several months – but “not a dime” from the budget of the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) he leads. And, Ashcroft said, the experience was well worth the students’ efforts and his time even if the team had not won first prize.”

Of course, under his leadership and a few other volunteers, that team did win first place. You can read about that here on the Think Small post: Pasadena City College Team Places First in National Community College Innovation Challenge.

Congratulations to Dr. Ashcroft for a job well done with guiding these students to great results and kudos for his ongoing commitment to their success. You can congratulate Jared for his fine work by commenting on our LinkedIn page.

You can read the full article by Madeline Patton on the ATE Impacts site: MNT-EC Principal Investigator Is a Fan of the Community College Innovation Challenge.

Roundup of Micro Nano Trends, News, and Updates from MNT-EC

If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this universe into parts—physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on—remember that nature does not know it!

 —Richard Feynman  (Shout out to the Twitter Account honoring Richard Feynman.) 
Leidenfrost Effect _Emory University, Burton Lab
Credit: Justin Burton, Emory University

In this new section, the Editor’s Corner, we will be sharing a curated list of articles, videos, and social feeds we find relevant or helpful to the MNT-EC mission of helping advance the micro nano technician workforce (you can read more about our mission and goals here).


If you are an educator or workforce development specialist, this upcoming workshop on February 3 may interest you: The State University of New York (SUNY), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) invite you to take part in a workshop focusing on current challenges in the education and workforce development pipeline for current and future microelectronics manufacturing and design in the U.S. Visit the MNT-EC Calendar for more info: Education and Workforce Development for U.S. Microelectronics Industry.

Social Media and Networking with Micro Nano professionals

Check out the Micro Nano Education LinkedIn page where we post new podcast episodes, job or internship info, and other relevant career and professional information. We also shared a link to the Top Nanotechnology Experts and Organizations on Twitter

Clean Drinking Water from Air

Thanks to relatively recent materials science work scientists are finding ways to extract water from air with solar powered hydropanels. 

According to Forbes, “An Arizona company, SOURCE, and its founder, Cody Friesen, a materials scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University, spent nearly seven years developing the Source Hydropanel… Pure water is mineralized with magnesium and calcium to achieve an ideal taste profile. Finally, sensors in each hydropanel monitor and optimize the water to maintain quality. The hydropanels produce an average of 3-5 liters of clean drinking water per day (or up to 1.3 gallons).”

Do-It-Yourself Microscope

Much of the micro nano world relies upon advanced microscopes. Although this simple, affordable, and fun microscope is far from advanced, it is elegant and it does make science accessible in important ways. The Foldscope is a do-it-yourself (DIY) type microscope, according to the website, Foldscope was “invented by Manu Prakash and Jim Cybulski who asked themselves: What is the best microscope you can build for under $1 in parts? Over 1.5 million of these can be found in the wild, in the hands of children, educators, and citizen scientists around the world — that’s a good thing. 

Foldscope DIY Microscope website screenshot including Images taken with Foldscope.
Foldscope DIY Microscope website screenshot including Images taken with Foldscope

Two More Educator-related Resources

If you do not already know or follow Tom Vander Ark from Getting Smart, he recently posted about Trends Shaping Education in 2022. A worthwhile read that highlights important areas to watch, New Learning Goals including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI); Team Tools and Staffing; and Active Learning. 

Speaking of DEI-related content: The Underrepresentation Curriculum (URC) is a free, flexible curriculum for STEM instructors to teach about injustice and change the culture of STEM. Using tools such as data analysis, hypothesis creation, and investigation, students look critically at science through the lenses of equity and inclusion. By comparing the general population to similar data describing scientists, students can explore issues of social justice in STEM.

May your weekend be filled with many small things that make a difference.

More information about the first post image – although it is not specifically a nano or microtechnology image, I will claim Feynman’s quote – nature does not know about our divisions of courses and fields of study, so this work may influence an area of nanotechnology at some point in the future. More so, this curation effort will feature a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics that you may find spurs a new idea or direction in your research or classroom. 

Water droplet levitates in the Leidenfrost state

A water droplet levitates 80 microns above a hot surface heated past water’s boiling point in the Leidenfrost state. [Research supported by U.S. National Science Foundation grant DMR 1455086.] Learn more in the Emory University news story New method reveals minimum heat for levitating drops.

An earlier post about Foldscope was published at Medium.  

Nanotechnology: Lessons from Nature – Discoveries, Research, and Applications

The world around us provides enormous opportunities for understanding science. Arguably, it has been one of humankind’s greatest inspirations for many, if not most, inventions, art, and other creations. Nature offers us specific nanotechnology lessons and is the subject of a new book from Morgan & Claypool Publishers. Nanotechnology: Lessons from Nature — Discoveries, Research, and Applications, by Deb Newberry of Newberry Technology Associates, will be published later this month.

Book Cover: Deb-Newberry-Nanotechnology-Lessons-From-Nature
Nanotechnology: Lessons from Nature — Discoveries, Research, and Applications, by Deb Newberry

This new book covers 21 different phenomena that have been observed in nature and puzzled about for decades. Diving into five ecosystems— the ocean, insects, flora, fauna, and humans — Newberry offers observations to help readers understand the relationship between the more easily observed macro level and understanding what is found at the nanoscale.

The book summary points out how “the development of microscopes and other tools allow us to study, evaluate, and test these observed phenomena at the molecular and atomic scale… From the strength of a marine sponge found at the depths of the oceans, to the insect-hydroplaning surface of the edge of a plant, to the intricacies of the eyes of a moth, nanotechnology has allowed science to define and understand these amazing capabilities. In many cases, this new understanding has been applied to products and applications that benefit humans and the environment.”  

This book is for sale in the retail market on all major platforms and can be purchased directly from Morgan & Claypool Publishers here. It is also available to institutions with access to Synthesis Digital Library Collection 11 here. This is the second book they have published by Ms. Newberry, the first being titled Nanotechnology Past and Present: Leading to Science, Engineering, and Technology (2020).

Deb Newberry, Founder and CEO of Newberry Technology Associates, is a consultant to the MNT-EC. She has been involved with research, emerging technology, and nanotechnology for several decades. She served as the Director/Instructor of the Nanoscience Technician program at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount MN from 2004–2018. She created the 72-credit nanoscience technician program in 2003 and began the program with National Science Foundation funding. Deb also served as the Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Nanotechnology Education, Nano-Link, for 10-plus years with over $12M from the National Science Foundation. 

If you want to learn more about how nature and nanotechnology go together, you can also check out the NNCI page: Nature Helps Technology. The National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), established in 2015, is supported by 16 individual cooperative agreements from the National Science Foundation. NNCI is also an Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Partner with MNT-EC.