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Pioneering nanosystems degree wins approval

The Louisiana Board of Regents granted final approval Thursday for Louisiana Tech (in Ruston, La.) to offer a nanosystems engineering degree program, the nation's first such undergraduate degree.

Tech's new Bachelor of Science degree program will be implemented this fall.

According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative -- a federal coordinator of multi-agency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering and technology -- about 20,000 researchers are at work in nanotechnology today, and 2 million workers will be needed within 15 years to support nanotechnology industries worldwide.

"There's definitely a national need that we are responding to," said Dr. Stan Napper, dean of Tech's College of Engineering and Science.

He added that external resources are available to help fund nanotechnology programs, and NNI numbers bear him out.

Federal funding for nanotechnology research and development has increased from $116 million in 1997 to $961 million in 2004, according to the NNI, which also estimates that worldwide, government funding topped $2 billion in 2002.

"Government, and even more so industry, is funding the development of these applications," Napper said. "The funding is evidence of the capability and interest. As there is an increase in both the application of nanotechnology and of funding, there's a need for trained scientists and engineers."

Napper described nanosystems engineering as the application of basic chemistry and physics to analysis and design of devices and systems with nanoscale (one-billionth of a meter) features.

He said products already featuring nanoscale properties include cosmetics and stain-free clothing. In the near future, he said, expect advanced drug-delivery systems, medical diagnostic tools, and solar cells in roofing tiles and siding.

"Nanosystems are going to be useful in a wide variety of industries, not just so-called nanotechnology
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Contact: Darlene Bush Tucker
dtucker@latech.edu
318-257-4854
Louisiana Tech University
24-Feb-2005


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