Rio Salado College’s Nanotechnology Program Receives National Science Foundation Grant
The Nanotechnology program at Rio Salado College is undertaking the work to increase the employee pool for the nanotechnology industry thanks to a $300,000 grant awarded through the National Science Foundation as part of Advanced Technological Education. The Rio Salado initiative, known as Supporting Micro and Nano Technicians Through Hybrid Teaching Methods or informally as "Nano Knows No Limits,” aims to train 30 micro- and nano technicians.
Headed by Dr. Rick Vaughn, faculty chair for STEM initiatives at Rio Salado, “Nano Knows No Limits” will provide an accessible and affordable academic program for students to gain employable skills.
It will offer a blend of online learning, virtual labs, and hands-on experience with college partners. Currently, employers are struggling to find qualified candidates with the right experience and specific industry knowledge in nanotechnology to meet their hiring needs.
The project, in collaboration with Arizona State University and Dr. Trevor Thorton, will enable Rio Salado to offer a six-course certificate and an associate degree in nanotechnology.
"Maricopa County has become a tech hub for many international companies with hiring needs for micro- and nano-technicians,” Vaughn said. “Rio is excited to expand our capacity to train a new generation of diverse workforce for the expanding semiconductor and photonics industries across the Valley.”
Rio Salado is actively recruiting students for the program, including students from populations typically underrepresented in STEM in technician education programs. The Nanotechnology program is working with its partner companies to provide hands-on lab experiences.
Students who complete the program will be immediately prepared to enter the workforce with technical knowledge and hands-on experience that employers desire.
In addition to the training students receive, Rio Salado College will evaluate how non-traditional students use flexible pathways to reach their goals of education and career. That information will be shared with sister Maricopa Community Colleges and institutions nationwide during technical conferences.