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May 16th, 2009
CEO of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives talks about potential effect of nanotechnology on the government IT market
The Corporation for National Research Initiatives has also been an important player in the area of Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems and Nanotechnology with its MEMS Exchange. In an extended interview with Government Computer News chief editor Wyatt Kash, Internet pioneer and CNRI chairman, chief executive officer and president, Dr. Robert E. Kahn, talked about how CNRI got involved in the supporting MEMS research and that work might impact the government technology market.
Dr. Robert E. Kahn: I think this work almost surely will have an important impact on research and prototyping activities in the country and ultimately innovation more broadly. Most of what comes into the MEMS and Nanotechnology Exchange consists of proprietary designs that organizations and individuals wish to have fabricated into devices. This is an effort that DARPA funded because they wanted to help groups that might otherwise have difficulty getting designs fabricated to get them done. It's very hard for an organization to work with foundries to fabricate one device or even very small lots. But if you want, say, a million devices, they'll work with you. The overhead of training a new user to use a facility for generating very small lots isn't usually worth it.
Back in the late 1970s when I was at DARPA, I was very concerned that if we didn't get the university computer science community to learn how to deal with LSI (large scale integration) technology, and the ability to design integrated circuits, they would be marginalized going forward. In addition to being out of touch with the latest technology for building computational devices, industry would find a shortage of adequately trained personnel. Most importantly, we wouldn't benefit from the innovative ideas that might have resulted from the burgeoning computer science community.
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