NVC Hosts First-Ever Nanotechnology Conference

City Councilman Rey Saldana
City Councilman Rey Saldana

San Antonio’s first-ever nanotechnology forum was held at NVC on Oct. 18.

The 131 attendees, including city leaders, researchers, investors, and students, gathered at the Cypress Campus Center for the daylong San Antonio NanoTechnology Forum (SANTF) to learn and discuss how nanotechnology will shape the future. The National Science Foundation was the lead sponsor for the event.

Nanotechnology involves understanding and controlling matter at the scale of a nanometer (nm), or one billionth of a meter. To put this in perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nm thick. Nanotechnology has numerous applications; including the diagnosis and treatment of diseases; the production of safer and better preserved food; and the creation of electric vehicles.

NVC Hosts First-Ever Nanotechnology Conference

Almost all consumer products in our lives today, such as smart phones, flat screen TV’s, and even our clothing involve nanotechnology. It’s estimated that this field will generate two million jobs by 2015 and account for 5 percent ($5 trillion) of the Gross Domestic Product by 2020.

To kick off the conference, NVC President Jackie Claunch and Vice President Jimmie Bruce welcomed participants.

District 4 Councilman Rey A. Saldaña said the city embraces science and sees Northwest Vista College as the “pipeline for this type of research.”

Mauli Agrawal, dean of the UTSA’s College of Engineering, said the “future is nanotechnology and it will take meetings like the one at NVC to get to the next level.”

NVC President Jackie Claunch
NVC President Jackie Claunch

The objective of the conference was to identify the wide range of nanotechnology education and research currently underway in the San Antonio area; form a nanotechnology network to increase awareness in education, career, and business investment opportunities; and continue to hold regular nano forums to maintain a strategic vision for growing nanotechnology opportunities here.

Increasing opportunities in the field of nanotechnology is the goal of the NSF’s Nanotechnology Applications and Career Knowledge Network (NACK) based at Pennsylvania State University.

NACK’s Robert K. Ehrmann said at the NVC conference nanotechnology programs at community colleges have grown tremendously in the last several years. He emphasized the critical role that community colleges will play training future workforce needed for these jobs, which include engineering technicians, laboratory technicians, scientist specialist, research assistants, etc.

John Grillo, chair of Workforce Technical Programs
John Grillo, chair of Workforce Technical Programs

Other topics at the conference included the status of nanotechnology research in San Antonio, such as “A Global Strategy for Nanotechnology Commercialization: Connecting Innovators, Investors, and Educators” and “Preventing and Treating Combat Related Infections.”

Additional sponsors for the SANTF Conference were the City of San Antonio, Texas Sustainable Energy, CPS Energy, Green Star Products, Thermo Fisher Scientific, NanoProfessor, Texas State University, NanoThermo and SAI Global Technologies.

Qiaoying Zhou, Ph.D., NVC Nanotechnology coordinator, said having a conference like this at NVC raises the profile of the college in emerging technology fields, especially with researchers, university partners, and business leaders throughout the area.

NVC Hosts First-Ever Nanotechnology Conference
“Meetings like the SANTF Conference are a catalyst to bring everyone together who is currently involved or interested in nanotechnology field,” she said. “It creates opportunities for future collaboration among professionals in the same area of interest.”