The Connecticut State University System’s number of students majoring in sciences, has grown by 32 percent in the past five years. In response to a growing amount of interest from both students and Connecticut industry, CSUS has receive a grant of $750,000 from the Federal Department of Energy, according to the CSUS website, to develop a new nanotechnology initiative to offer a graduate certificate.
“The facility will be available to faculty and students from all four universities (Central, Eastern, Southern and Western) to help in research facilitation and also in providing research for students to use,” said Christine Broadbridge, chair of the Physics Department at Southern. “In addition it will be beneficial to have such a program when raising additional grant funds. Funders look for this type of infrastructure and with this new microscope we are unique to the region.”
The grant will fund the purchase of equipment as well and faculty and curriculum development. Southern plans to add a new state-of-the-art microscope to the nano-charaterization facility according to Broadbridge.
The Scanning Electron Microscope will cost approximately $370,000 and will be used to look at objects at an atomic level.
“We’ve been working on developing this facility over the past ten years and this is really a launching step that will bring us into a whole new realm,” said Broadbridge.
Nanotechnology is about visualizing and analyzing matter at the nano level, a billionth of a meter according to Broadbridge. At that level, these objects have unique properties and all sorts of new discoveries are made.
Broadbridge said nanotechnology is forecasted to be something with a huge impact on the lives of everyone in the next fifty years. Compared to the role to of a computer or plastics, the effect may grow to be even greater.
After opening a new science classroom building in 2008, the number of science majors at Eastern jumped from 222 in 2005 to 343 in 2009. With the new nanotechnology hub at Southern, Broadbridge said all the science programs here will be impacted.
With the new addition to the nanotechnology facility, Southern will be offering coursework comparable to other nanotech graduate certificates in the country, including those at Lehigh University and George Mason.
“High school students with an interest in science, when considering where to attend college are extremely interested in the level of the facilities that will be available to them,” said CSUS Chancellor David. G. Carter in a press release. “The construction of new facilities, and brining them online, has had a dramatic impact on the numbers.”
Southern was chosen as a center primarily because of the high amount of research already being done with Yale University said Broadbridge. Through collaboration, this will only help the growing program.
Specifically, Southern will begin offering courses this summer and next fall. This summer, Broadbridge said the department will offer an introductory and characterization course in technique that will be beneficial to both students and professionals.
Broadbridge said the course will be offered at night so more industry personal can take part in it.
Students and faculty from other state universities will not only have the chance to come to Southern to utilize the center, but will also have the chance to take coursework here or at their own school in nanotechnology. Broadbridge said faculty from all four CSUS universities can use the equipment as well.
Next fall, Southern will offer a new masters program in Applied Physics; Broadbridge said there will be two tracks offered: Nanotechnology material and an optics program.
“The focus of the program is to share a common core, to be very interdisciplinary,” said Broadbridge. “We’ve done some surveying of Connecticut industry and we see there is a need for optics in Connecticut. We’re sensitive to the fact that many of our students want to get jobs in Connecticut and we want to help them do that.”
According to the press release, 93 percent of the 36,500 students in undergraduate and graduate programs in the CSUS are from Connecticut and 86 percent pursue their career in the state after graduation.