An interesting news update courtesy of Nanowerk News – House representative David Wu has introduced a Nanotechnology Education Act to US Congress that seeks to encourage U.S. students into the field of nanotechnology research and engineering. The document begins by recognising that:
(1) The rapidly growing field of nanotechnology is generating scientific and technological breakthroughs that will benefit society by improving the way many things are designed and made.0
(2) Nanotechnology is likely to have a significant, positive impact on the security, economic well-being, and health of Americans as fields related to nanotechnology expand.
(3) In order to maximize the benefits of nanotechnology to individuals in the United States, the United States must maintain world leadership in the field, including nanoscience and microtechnology, in the face of determined competition from other nations.
(4) According to the National Science Foundation, foreign students on temporary visas earned 33 percent of all science and engineering doctorates awarded in the United States in 2007, the last year for which data are available. Foreign students earned 63 percent of the engineering doctorates.
(5) To maintain world leadership in nanotechnology, the United States must make a long-term investment in educating United States students in secondary schools and institutions of higher education, so that the students are able to conduct nanoscience research and develop and commercialize nanotechnology applications.
(6) Preparing United States students for careers in nanotechnology, including nanoscience, requires that the students have access to the necessary scientific tools, including scanning electron microscopes designed for teaching, and requires training to enable teachers and professors to use those tools in the classroom and the laboratory.
You can see the whole document here. It’s a good sign, and shows an appropriate sense of foresight on behalf of the representative involved in creating the document. Nanotechnology is an industry that has application in almost every aspect of our modern lives, and there are areas where we can’t even begin to comprehend how much impact nanotechnology will have in the future.
The U.S. will, of course, want to ensure that they are an active and essential part of that industry; and initiatives such as the ones proposed in this document are an important step in making sure that the U.S. does not fall behind in this area. Interestingly, at the same time that this was being introduced, there were reports of recent research being done at Rice University in Houston, Texas. The researchers were using nanoparticles to help fight cancer cells.
Say what you will about the incessant push for U.S. dominance in all areas, but there are some real world-changing advancements to be discovered in the field of nanotechnology. Any extra funding or focus that can be placed onto the industry, both in the form of research but also regulatory standards and guidelines, should be welcomed with great enthusiasm.
There are some important issues to be discussed, to be sure, but the widespread implementation of nanotechnology is going to initiate a true paradigm shift in the way society functions and moves forwards.
What do you think about current research and advancements in nanotechnology? Are we doing enough to ensure that ethical and safety boundaries are not crossed, even unintentionally?