Baylor Partners In $500,000 Nanotechnology Workforce Development Initiative

Jan. 5, 2005
News Photo 2482Dr. Truell Hyde, Baylor vice provost for research and CASPER director, in CASPER?s Hypervelocity Impacts and Dusty Plasma Lab, a joint Baylor-TSTC research facility located on the TSTC campus. Hyde is standing beside the complex plasma system.

by Judy Long

The Texas Workforce Commission has awarded a $500,000 grant to a statewide partnership led by Texas State Technical College-Waco (TSTC), Baylor University and Zyvex Corp., in which Baylor's Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER) plays a significant role. The Baylor-TSTC partnership, through CASPER's experimental research capability, will provide future nano-manufacturing technicians with research experience as a central part of their preparation for entry into the newly developing nanotechnology manufacturing workforce.

Gov. Rick Perry, who announced the funding, said, "I anticipate this program to be extended and replicated by other nanotechnology companies and community colleges throughout the State of Texas giving Texas nanotechnology workers and employers a key competitive advantage against companies located throughout the Pacific Rim."

Zyvex, a nanotechnology firm located in Richardson, is the lead industrial partner and will provide valuable equipment support for CASPER researchers and forward-looking input for TSTC's technical curriculum development. The CASPER internship will serve as a springboard to technical internships for students at Zyvex, providing valuable support to a statewide "gold standard" for advanced manufacturing technical field experiences.

Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research at Baylor and CASPER director, said the state and technology industry have recognized the value of Baylor research combined with TSTC workforce development. "It's a relationship that has worked very well within CASPER, and that success helped the new partnership receive funding," he said.

Hyde said the funding will pay part of the cost for an S100 nano-manipulator, a manipulation and testing tool used for micro-, meso- and nanoscale research, development and production applications. The instrument will be located in CASPER's Hypervelocity Impacts and Dusty Plasma Lab (HIDPL). Zyvex will fund the remainder of the instrument's cost as part of the grant agreement.

The research portion of the Nanotechnology Workforce Development Initiative (NWDI) will be conducted at the HIDPL, located on the TSTC campus where the Baylor-TSTC partnership provides Baylor undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty research teams with full technical support utilizing TSTC-Waco student interns and faculty. Baylor and TSTC students working with the S100 and two plasma reference systems will pursue current CASPER research to determine the physics behind micro- and mesoscale structure formation within complex plasmas. The research will be used in the new project, laying the groundwork for advanced nanotechnology field experiences for participating students at both Baylor and Zyvex.

Hyde said short courses built around nano-research and training will be developed throughout the funding period and tested by Baylor undergraduate and graduate students.

State officials expect NWDI to support economic development in the advanced manufacturing sector by attracting new businesses to Texas. The Texas Workforce Commission anticipates the project will play a significant role in this effort by supplying the researchers and technicians necessary to develop the new class of services and products created by the nanotechnology industry.

James R. Von Ehr II, Zyvex founder and CEO, said, "It's imperative that we have a well trained, innovative workforce to bring the promise of nanotechnology to fruition here in Texas and in the United States. This program is a major step to helping us meet the challenges of this competitive global economy and achieve that goal."

Additionally, the award will accelerate efforts to leverage additional government funding to further research, curriculum development and training initiatives statewide. Del Mar College of Corpus Christi is the fourth partner in the initiative.

For more information, contact Hyde at (254) 710-3763 or Truell_Hyde@baylor.edu. For more information about TSTC, visit their web site at www.waco.tstc.edu, Del Mar at www.delmar.edu and Zyvex Corp. at www.zyvex.com.

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