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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > NanoBioNexus > NanoTecNexus Outreach Programs Debut in San Diego

Adriana Vela
Founder & Chair
NanoBioNexus

Abstract:
This year has been marked by change. Not only did we officially change our corporate name to NanoTecNexus from NanoBioNexus, we have also launched a series of outreach programs designed to expand the awareness and education of nanotechnology to broader audiences.

May 21st, 2009

NanoTecNexus Outreach Programs Debut in San Diego

This year has been marked by change. Not only did we officially change our corporate name to NanoTecNexus from NanoBioNexus, we have also launched a series of outreach programs designed to expand the awareness and education of nanotechnology to broader audiences. Nanotechnology involves manipulating matter at the atomic or molecular scale smaller than 100 nanometers (1 nm= 1 billionth of a meter), and taking advantage of properties that are present at that scale. As a leading organization dedicated to collaboration and knowledge exchange, we have envisioned the future and we are doing our part to address the needs of industry and the community at large: We start with a new mission and focused programs.

Despite the predominance of woeful economic news of late the fact is that we live and work in a time of unprecedented opportunity. While it is no immediate consolation to those who are losing jobs and companies, the opportunity now exists to reinvent and innovate in ways that we never thought possible. From a nanotechnology perspective, global investment has never been higher, and each year's progress gets us closer to game-changing applications.

Why is outreach more important now than ever?

Bottom line: Businesses that develop or depend on nanotechnologies cannot thrive or perhaps even survive long term without a healthy pipeline of skilled workforces. According to a report authored by Mihail C. Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation, there is a current shortage of skilled nanotech workers and approximately 2 million more will be needed by 2015. The report goes on to say that nanotechnology has the potential to create 5 million more related jobs in the global market.

NanoTecNexus understands this issue and its impact on industry. During the first week of April we delivered two installments in our continuing series of public and professional outreach programs. These programs were designed to engage the community at large and kids of all ages, creating awareness and understanding of nanoscience ranging from novel materials to career opportunities. The programs followed the initiation of a NanoTecNexus-sponsored month-long exhibit of NanoArt, a new art discipline created by world-renowned artist/scientist Cris Orfescu, hosted at Mission Valley Library in March. On the web at www.nanoart21.org.

Nanotech Mashup dishes up a spicy industry outlook - April 1

The Nanotech Mashup—orchestrated in partnership with the University of California at San Diego's NanoTumor Center—made its debut on April 1st at the Hilton Garden Inn in San Diego. This event featured a keynote from industry expert, Josh Wolfe,
co-Founder and Managing Partner of Lux Capital. His talk, "Nanotech, Megamillions: Fortune, Fame, Failures, & Folly—A Contrarian View from a Venture Capital Investor," provided a whirlwind tour from nanotechnology to energy to economic side effects. During the reception, attendees had the opportunity to engage in conversations with UCSD researchers from the chemistry, medical, physical sciences, engineering, and physics departments who are all working together on innovative applied and translational nanotechnology research. Hands-on demonstrations, videos, and educational materials were provided. Kenneth Vecchio, PhD, Chair of UCSD's NanoEngineering Department, said, "It was a great opportunity to network with professional colleagues and to provide a venue that makes nanotechnology accessible and interesting to the public." Exhibit booths and posters displayed educational content ranging from leading-edge products to career opportunities to NanoArt.


Nanopalooza offers something for everyone - April 4

In support of and collaboration with the inaugural San Diego Science Festival (www.sdsciencefestival.org), NanoTecNexus and the NanoTumor Center hosted the Nanopalooza booth at the Festival's "Expo at the Park" in Balboa Park on Saturday, April 4th. The Expo was the culmination of a month-long celebration that promoted the sciences to students and the public. More than 200 booths were visited by over 50,000 people. Sponsor companies and collaborating organizations provided activities for the young and young at heart. The tally of attendees for all of the activities was above 200,000, exceeding this first year's goal.

The NanoTecNexus booth featured fun activities, games, and displays focused on educating visitors about nanotechnology. Volunteers from the NanoTumor Center joined the NanoTecNexus team and other members of the scientific community to lend a hand at the booth. The primary goal was to answer questions and explain what makes nanotech special, what career opportunities there are in this field, and what nanotech-enabled products exist today and are coming in the future. It was gratifying to see all the students out learning about science on a beautiful day in Balboa Park.

Our community outreach series is also an important bridge to meeting the needs of the nanotechnology business community. This program emphasizes the importance of science, engineering, math, and physics, and how they converge to create novel nanotechnologies. At NanoTecNexus, our goal is to blend philanthropic activities with an industry purpose to address educational issues today and tomorrow. Today's curious minds are tomorrow's innovators, leaders, and inventors.

Even kids who are not primarily interested in science were amazed at the nano-landscapes by Cris Orfescu who famously brings science and technology to the creation of unique works of art that was among the booth displays. Parents who brought their children were amazed at the many ways nanotechnology is impacting research and other disciplines. One attendee commented, "This was the most important booth in the festival."

As visionary Larry Bock, founder of the San Diego Science Festival, says, "Science is alive and well in San Diego." Post-festival, Larry shared an excerpt from a speech that President Obama delivered at the National Academy of Science and National Academy of Engineering on April 27th:

"So I want to persuade you to spend time in the classroom, talking—and showing—young people what it is that your work can mean, and what it means to you. Encourage your university to participate in programs to allow students to get a degree in scientific fields and a teaching certificate at the same time. Think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, like science festivals, robotics competitions, and fairs that encourage young people to create, build, and invent—to be makers of things."

The San Diego Science Festival, NanoTecNexus, and the NanoTumor Center are doing just that….


Adriana Vela
NanoTecNexus, Inc.
www.nanotecnexus.org
4 April 2009

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