I attended the HITEC Conference in Denver last week as part of the Nano-Link Group. HITEC stands for High Impact Technology Exchange Conference and is funded through the National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education program (NSF ATE). High tech brings together technical educators from many different disciplines including Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Materials Science, IT, Microelectronics and others.
Our school has recently modified its Nanoscience Technology program to be part of an Engineering Technology program. The Engineering Technology degrees currently have three emphasis areas: Nano Engineering, Industrial Engineering (Food Safety and QA) and Manufacturing Engineering. These programs share a common core set of courses and then are differentiated in third and fourth semesters.
One of the workshops I found interesting was on entrepreneurship presented by Christoph Winkler and Edgar Troudt of the CUNY Institute for Virtual Enterprise in Brooklyn, NY.
During this session we became virtual entrepreneurs and developed our "imaginary" product a type of nanoparticle that stimulates the body's own immune system to attack cancer cells. There are already several researchers investigating this.
My dream is to develop entrepreneurship concepts early in a student's education so that when they enter the work place they will have a choice to either work for an existing company or start a company of their own. I imagine competitions set up by schools where students select to be on different teams to make products. Students might elect to work on marketing, research & development, finances and budgeting etc. The winning team should earn a place in a business incubator to develop their product. I realize there have been some efforts related to this. As part of this effort we should offer a complete Fab Lab on our campus.
We already have most of the components in place. A 3D printer is about the only thing necessary to complete the equipment set.
Our school has an incubator site on campus where companies can lease space at a reasonable rate. It is called the Nanorite Center
Nanorite tenants have access to the clean room and other fabrication and analysis equipment available on the campus. Making a Fab Lab available to Nanorite tenants would provide them with a significant advantage in developing their products.
I also attended a presentation on nanosolar photovoltaics. I was saddened to hear about Konarka which seems to have gone into bankruptcy.
Nanosolar http://www.nanosolar.com/ seems to being doing well though.
I drove out to the conference with my family so we were able to do a little sight seeing after the conference.