Subcommittee on Research and Technology - Nanotechnology: From Laboratories to Commercial Products

However, there is another type of STEM graduate that is important and often forgotten in this educational debate. In the area of nanotechnology there are active two-year programs that produce individuals with Associate degrees. The Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge (NACK, a National Science Foundation National ATE Center for Nanotechnology Workforce Development program) Network is a good example of an organization that promotes education in the area and specifically delivers graduates with two-year degrees.

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These two-year programs are important because they graduate individuals that have the knowledge and capability to operate and repair the robotic and electronic equipment that is used to manufacture nanotechnology products. Students are trained in environments and with equipment that is specifically used in nanotechnology; indeed, they are able to operate and repair equipment that most four-year and advanced degree STEM graduates would have had little or no exposure to in their educational experience. This is an important distinction: graduates with four-year and advanced STEM degrees expect to work in research and development environments in which they design devices, tooling, and processes. They do not expect to actually work on the factory floor, and are often incapable of doing so or find it to be less stimulating and less challenging. NACK-type two-year graduates are trained to work on the factory floor and, in our experience, have proven to be ideal employees for this work.

Testimony by:
Les Ivie
President and CEO, F Cubed
F Cubed - South Bend, IN