September 2015

Nanotechnology Program continues to grow and evolve

As Oakton Community College's NE3i Nanotechnology two year certificate program enters into its third full year, student interest in the field is growing, new state of the art equipment has been acquired, and the internship program with nanotechnology industry companies continues to develop.
Oakton's NE3i program is housed at the Illinois Science + Technology Park, and is the one of the area's foremost training grounds for professional technicians in the emerging field of nanotechnology. NE3i, short for the "Nanotechnology Education, Employment and Development Initiative", is a partnership between the IS+TP, the Village of Skokie, Oakton Community College ("OCC") and NSERVE, a consortium of nine area high schools. One of NE3i's top goals is to provide students with the necessary skills to pursue nanotechnology careers and employment in the emerging nanotechnology space. According to information provided by Oakton: "nanotechnology is one of the most rapidly growing career fields. On the cutting edge of science, nanotechnology plays a critical role in biology, chemistry, engineering, medicine, and physics - from building microprocessors and delivering anti-cancer drugs efficiently to making clothes more stain resistant and improving sunscreen absorption."
This past year Oakton acquired a sophisticated piece of equipment known as a PCR thermal cycler which is capable of performing state of the art DNA and protein analysis. In part, this acquisition took into account that a large segment of Skokie's nanotech industry focus on biological methods and materials. The Oakton program curriculum has been modified to support the utilization of this new resource.
Thus far, two students have completed the certificate program. Both have also participated in the internship program. One student worked at NanoAl and the other at Applied Thin Films. Oakton is in discussions with a number of other companies about offering internships positions to its students down the line.
According to John Ireland, Project Grant Manager, participation and interest in the program has steadily increased. "We expect 10 students to complete the program in 2016, but it was really encouraging to see over 20 potential students come to our open house on August 13th to learn more about the curriculum " Ireland remarked.  
Special thanks to Brad Rosen for this posting. Brad is a writer, attorney, Skokie resident and a member of Skokie's Economic Development Commission


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