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"Nanotech has been a very active area of research and also a new field that has only been around for one decade or so. The future will just be nanotechnology because everything goes down to a small scale, so it is very important for students to have this knowledge," said Younan Xia, the James M. McKelvey Professor of Biomedical Engineering.
A two-year grant from the National Science Foundation, worth about $200,000, will help fund the laboratories that are necessary to run such a program.
Nanotechnology refers to technology on the scale of a nanometer (one-billionth of a meter). Its uses are wide-ranging, including nanotech transistors in laptops and forms of biotechnology, such as cancer diagnostics.
The program will accept its first round of applicants in the fall of 2011 and is open to students majoring in any of the engineering disciplines, as well as biology, physics and chemistry.
Students who minor in nanotechnology will take an introductory course, taught by Xia, where they will learn about the principles of the field. The course will feature nanotechnology experts as guest lecturers.
Following this class, students will take nanotech lab courses.
According to Xia, there is a great deal of interest in the program. Many students have already inquired into the details of the minor.
"I think that it is pretty cool that the school is providing so many different areas of study," said sophomore Alex Padovano, a biomedical engineering major.
Freshman Joe McDonald is interested in taking some of the classes in the minor.
"I think it shows that the school is very progressive … they are following the new technologies that are coming out so they can train students to be familiar with them when they start working," McDonald said.
Xia expects that there will be sixteen students in the minor per year.
In addition to the minor, ten students will participate in a summer fellowship program each year. These students will use their studies to create Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning models, which will be used at the St. Louis Science Center to educate students, from kindergarten to twelfth-grade, about the field.
According to Xia, studying nanotechnology is more common on the graduate level than it is for undergraduates. When Xia was a professor at the University of Washington, faculty members worked to develop a graduate-level nanotechnology program.
Since moving to Washington University, Xia has hoped for something similar here.
"This is something I have been dreaming about for a very long time. Since I moved here I hoped to expand it to the undergraduate level," said Xia.
Undergraduates understand the innovative nature of the program as well.
"That sounds pretty interesting. It sounds like cool new technology at the forefront of science," Padovano said, "Advancing nanotechnology would benefit medicine, so it's a pretty cool field."
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
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