Exploring this Job
Participate in school science clubs to learn the basics of scientific exploration. The American Chemical Society offers its ChemClub program at more than 600 high schools across the country. According to the ACS Web site, ChemClubs allows students to “participate in after-school activities, get involved in community building, learn about chemistry careers, enjoy social events, and better understand how chemistry plays a role in our everyday lives.” Ask your science teacher if your school has a ChemClub. If not, start one. See https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/chemistryclubs/about.html for more information.
Learn the basics of nanotechnology online. The Internet offers a wealth of information. Nanotechnology 101 (https://www.nano.gov/nanotech-101) is a good introduction, but many other resources can be found via a keyword search. To gain firsthand information, participate in information interviews with nanotechnology professionals and educators. Ask your school counselor or science teacher to help arrange an information interview.
Nanotechnology and science summer classes and programs at colleges and universities are another great way to explore the field. For example, the University of California at Los Angeles offers the CNSI Nanoscience Lab Summer Institute (https://www.summer.ucla.edu/institutes/NanoScienceLab), a summer workshop for high school students interested in advanced science and technology. Students participate in hands-on experiments that teach them the key concepts of nanoscale phenomena. Similar programs are offered by colleges and universities across the country. Contact schools in your area to learn more.
Nanotechnicians help nanotechnologists, scientists, engineers, and other nanotechnology professionals create new products, tools, and technologies in a wide range of industries. For example, nanotechnicians in the hazardous-waste management industry helped develop a nanoscale dry powder that can neutralize gas and liquid toxins in chemical spills. In the sporting-goods industry, nanotechnicians tested and developed carbon nanotubes for use in baseball bats and tennis rackets; this nanotechnology makes these items stronger, yet lighter, as compared to conventional materials. In the automotive industry, nanotechnicians are currently working with engineers and scientists to create ultra-strong, lightweight nanoparticles to replace heavy steel structures in cars, thereby increasing the vehicles’ gas mileage and reducing their production costs. Although job responsibilities for nanotechnicians vary by industry, most perform the following duties:
- operate precision equipment to control microscopic or nanoscopic processes
- process or characterize materials according to physical or chemical properties
- measure or mix chemicals or compounds by following detailed instructions or formulas
- write process specifications or documentation
- measure physical or chemical properties of materials or objects
- calibrate nanotechnology equipment, such as testing, weighing, or production equipment
- prepare reports on nanotechnology experiments or applications
- test products for functionality or quality
- maintain accurate record or batch-record documentation of nanoproduction
- measure emissions of nanoparticles or nanodust during nanocomposite or other nano-scale production processes, using aerosol detection systems and other technology
- maintain test equipment and clean work areas