Careers in Nanotechnology
Many nanotechnology program graduates work as nanotechnicians—conducting research in a cleanroom, fabricating tools or parts in a manufacturing facility, or investigating new technologies in a lab. Alumni work in fields as diverse as energy, biotechnology, semiconductors, and materials manufacturing companies. Others continue their education at four-year colleges. NSCC alumni can be found in University of Washington labs as well as companies throughout the Pacific Northwest including Silicon Designs, EnerG2, Hummingbird Scientific and RJC Enterprises.
Ok, so what do nanotechnicians actually do?
Nanotechnicians measure, make, test and study nanostructures and microstructures. Since nanostructures are invisible to the human eye, nanotechnicians use special high-powered microscopes and tools in their daily work. Visit our Nano Lab to see some of the microscopes technicians use. Nanotechnicians may work in a research lab at a university or in a company research and development facility. Nanotechnicians assist scientists and engineers in their research and keep careful, accurate records of their daily work.
Some nanotechnicians work in a "fab" or factory. Semiconductor companies build nanostructures as part of the computer chip development process in large fabs. Fabs have very large cleanrooms--spaces with special filtration systems to ensure that there are very few particles in the air that might contaminate a sample. Temperature and humidity are also controlled. Many nanotechnicians work in cleanrooms to fabricate--or build--nanostructures. In order to prevent additional particles from entering the cleanroom, technicians wear special suits, often called bunny suits.
Nanotechnicians write reports and share their results with scientists and engineers in the lab. They may prepare samples for microscopes, analyze data from experiments using software or repair instruments and tools. Some nanotechnicians order new supplies, check safety protocols or install new software. Experienced nanotechnicians may train new technicians on procedures and techniques.
What companies say about NSCC Nanotechnology program graduates:
"We hired an individual with a recent BS in Physics; he subsequently entered and completed the NSCC program in Nanotechnology. What a great combination! This employee is currently in charge of all Nano work for RJC, and will soon have a technician and a Nano intern reporting directly to him. The NSCC Nanotechnology training has provided the baseline onto which all subsequent successes have been built."Roger Wolthuis, PhD, RJC Enterprises, LLC
"We hired two graduates from North Seattle Community College's nanotechnology program, and the hands-on experience and theoretical foundation they had coming into the job was invaluable. They hit the ground running, and have been able to work independently from the start, improving our microfabrication processes and providing technical documentation of new methods. The internships and lab/coursework these graduates had coming out of the nanotech program put them far ahead of any other applicants."Sarah McQuaide, Fabrication Engineer, Silicon Designs, Inc
"My two employees with nanotechnology backgrounds are vital to the development of new products at EnerG2. Both employees clearly have a strong background in hands–on learning and research. They are comfortable with new techniques and knowledgeable about a broad range of nano-characterization methods and data interpretation. Their most valuable asset, however, is their positive and novel contributions to Product Development gained from their education in nanotechnology. Both employees speak very highly of the [North Seattle Community College nanotechnology] program and I would look to hire other graduates with the same background."Leah Riley, PhD, Director of Research and Development, EnerG2 Inc
Potential Job Titles
Biological Laboratory Technician
Chemical Laboratory Technician
Equipment Maintenance Technician
Failure Analysis Technician
Materials Science Lab Technician
Medical Devices Technician
Nanomaterials Research Associate
Nanoscale Fabrication Technician
Quality Control Technician
Scanning Electron Microscope Operator
Scanning Probe Operator
Solid State Technician
Thin Films Technician