SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend next year will add an intensive, 18-credit summer nanotechnology study program that is expected to draw students from across Indiana and possibly from other states.
The new program will be funded with a $165,000 National Science Foundation grant awarded to the South Bend campus. The grant will allow the campus here to develop a Nanotechnology Application and Career Knowledge (NACK) Network teaching site hub here, one of just seven such hubs in the nation.
The teaching site here is being developed in partnership with Penn State University.
Nanotechnology involves research and technological development at a scale so tiny it's measured in nanometers -- billionths of a meter. It creates and uses structures that have novel properties because of their size, and it offers the ability to manipulate individual atoms and molecules.
Jobs prospects are expected to be good in the growing field of nanotechnology.
The initial 10-week summer program will have room for 20 students. The program will be intense: six courses, requiring class work eight hours a day, five days a week.
Ivy Tech in South Bend last year became the first -- and so far the only -- college in Indiana to offer an associate's degree program in nanotechnology.
Abdollah Aghdasi, chair of Ivy Tech's nanotechnology program, expects the summer program to draw students from Ivy Tech's other campuses around the state and also from some four-year colleges and universities.
"You don't need to be an Ivy Tech student. We can take students from Notre Dame, IUSB, Western Michigan University -- anyone who wants to come and get the exposure to nanotechnology," he told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/SVBSLT ).
Although the nanotechnology degree currently is offered only in South Bend, students at other Ivy Tech campuses could take their general education requirements at their home campus, attend the intensive summer of nanotechnology courses in South Bend, then arrange to complete requirements (including an internship) for the nanotechnology degree back at their home campus, Aghdasi said.
Students who stop short of the eight required nanotechnology courses for the degree may be able to earn a certificate, but that hasn't yet been approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
Ivy Tech administrators are working with local residential colleges to find housing options for students who choose to come to South Bend for a summer to participate in the program.
The NSF grant will allow Ivy Tech to hire a full-time faculty member for the summer program.
The other NACK Network teaching hubs are in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York, Arizona, Washington state and Puerto Rico. The original teaching hub is based at Penn State, and Ivy Tech is working with faculty there in developing the site here.
Sixteen students started in Ivy Tech's first nanotechnology degree cohort in fall 2011, with nine of them still in the program. The first students are expected to complete their degrees next August. Ten new nanotechnology students started in the degree program this fall.
A graduate with an associate's degree in nanotechnology is qualified to work as a technician, helping with research and maintaining expensive high-tech equipment in nanotechnology clean rooms and other highly specialized laboratory environments.
The students learn skills on state-of-the-art laboratory equipment at Ivy Tech and also spend some time in the University of Notre Dame's clean room.
The new program will allow students to devote a full summer immersed in nanotechnology studies, said David Brinkruff, dean of Ivy Tech's Schools of Technology and Applied Science/Engineering. Some students may choose to pursue the full two-year nanotechnology associate's degree program, and others may just attend for a summer study immersion and major in another field, he said.
There may not be immediate demand for nanotechnology technicians in this region, but there will be as the field continues to grow, Brinkruff said. "We're ahead of the demand," he said.
"It will allow people to be able to gain skills in an area that is going to become very important to the local economy," he said.
Locally, Notre Dame increasingly is involved in nanotechnology research. And across the country and around the world, private companies -- from pharmaceutical manufacturers to chemical companies to defense contractors -- also are turning to nanotechnology to create new products.
Earning the Ivy Tech degree requires general education courses, eight nanotechnology courses, and an internship or research fellowship in an area laboratory. Some students will intern in labs at Notre Dame or at Innovation Park, Aghdasi said.
A good candidate for the program is someone with at least a high school diploma who is strong in sciences and math. For graduates who want to pursue further education, the Ivy Tech nanotechnology associate degree will transfer into Purdue North Central in Westville, where a student can earn a bachelor's degree in engineering technology.
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com