(588d) Nanotech Innovations: Nanotechnology Enterprise at Michigan Technological University

Authors: 
Jaszczak, J. A. - Presenter, Michigan Technological University
Raber, M. - Presenter, Michigan Technological University
Bennett, M. - Presenter, Michigan Technological University
Alaraje, N. - Presenter, Michigan Technological University
Bergstrom, P. L. - Presenter, Michigan Technological University


An innovative, goal-oriented, active-learning educational experience called the Michigan Tech Enterprise Program (http://www.enterprise.mtu.edu) was initiated a decade ago in order to provide a vehicle for undergraduates to experience the development and operation of a commercial enterprise and to actively address industry's needs for engineers with strong technical, communication, interpersonal, leadership, entrepreneurship and business skills. In January 2008 a new nanotechnology-related enterprise called Nanotech Innovations Enterprise was launched within this framework, with the help of an NSF Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education grant, in order to provide vehicle to engage students in a comprehensive hands-on entrepreneurial educational experience, including management, market research, technical research, product development, service, and outreach and education related to nanoscale science, engineering and technology (NST). Students from a variety of disciplines including biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, electrical and computer engineering are participating, and will be able to use their enterprise experience to count toward minor degrees, such as those in Nanotechnology or in Enterprise, or to fulfill the senior design requirements of their majors.

Nanotech Innovations projects currently include nanotechnology outreach and education to high school students and teachers (including demonstrations of scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopes), NST-related sample kits and supporting documentation, graphite crystals for graphene research and development, scanning tunneling microscope design and development. Supporting activities include recruiting, web site development, business plan development, product commercialization, and team leadership. Readings and discussion are regularly scheduled on topics of engineering ethics and societal implications of nano- and other emerging technologies in order to encourage regular and contextural consideration of these disciplines. This talk will further discuss the organizational framework and curricular structure of the enterprise, as well as some of the initial challenges encountered and rewards realized since its inception.

We gratefully acknowledge support from National Science Foundation grant ECE 0741490.

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