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Graduate Level

New Graduate Course on Airborne Nanoparticles

Prof. Montoya developed a new graduate course titled “Airborne Particles: from Nanomaterials to Health Effects” (ENVE 6961) taught last spring at Rensselaer. This is an introductory course to Aerosol Science and seeks to present the fundamentals of the fi eld, including properties and mechanisms for airborne particles from the nanoscale to the super-micron scale. Student evaluations were based on individual and team projects. The students formed multidisciplinary teams to integrate the various research disciplines represented in the class (e.g., architecture, environmental engineering, chemistry, mechanical engineering, science and technology studies).


Business Implications of Emerging Technologies Course

Prof. Peters is part of a team of three faculty teaching a semester graduate course in Business Innovation in Emerging Technologies (BIET). This course investigates the business dimensions of major technological advances. It explores how industry structures and organization, the dynamics of competition, patterns of innovation, operational decisions, and financial investment are all influenced by various types of technical breakthroughs. A major assignment for this course is developing a technology road map and using this roadmap as a basis for analyzing the potential impact of technology on the dynamics of an industry involved in emerging technologies. Several groups explored the impact of various nano-enabled technologies, such as carbon nanotubes, fuel cells and nanobiotechnolgy. In Commercializing Advanced Technology (which used to be the second semester of BIET) taught by Peters and another faculty member, students explore the interplay between emerging technology development, commercialization and new business creation. The challenges associated with intellectual property protection and utilization as well as the socioeconomic and ethical dimensions of new technology adoption are explored. Each year, students are required to select an early stage technology-based business concept development project, provided by either private sector companies or the RPI Office of Technology Commercialization. A majority of the projects over the last four years have involved some aspect of nanotechnology. Educational material drawing on nanotechnology research findings in commercialization and the socioeconomic impacts generated through NSF support of our NSEC has also been included in courses taught by Peters on Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Technological Entrepreneurship, which serve undergraduate and graduate students, and New Technology Commercialization, which serves the RPI executive MBA population. In Technological Entrepreneurship, student projects include the study of nanotechnology companies.

Past research on nanotechnology innovation and commercialization and the research carried out this past summer, supported by the NSEC Center, provided input into proposing a new Lally Business School Degree. This specialized masters degree, Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (TC&E), is now under review by New York State for certification. The purpose of the TC&E degree is to prepare a new breed of technological entrepreneurs who have advanced understanding of technology, fundamental understanding of commercial functions and analytics and practical experience in technological commercialization. Graduates from the program should be able to work in many areas. Among them are: technology transfer companies, government labs, university technology transfer programs, technology start-ups, new business centers in R&D departments, investment banks and venture capital firms, consulting companies featuring management of technology or new product development, and intellectual property firms. In addition, Peters’ participation in the NSEC led to her involvement in the management and commercialization dimension of an IGERT Grant submission to the National Science Foundation on Molecular Bioprocessing.

Graduate Leadership Course (Archer Leadership Center)

With NSEC support, the Archer Leadership Center at Rensselaer developed a graduate professional leadership series (PLS) open to all graduate engineering and science students at Rensselaer in the Spring of 2003. Since that time, a total of 287 students have participated in this non-credit course. The course is currently open to all Rensselaer graduate students, and enrollment is at an all-time high (51 students took the course this year). The course meets weekly, for two hours and covers topics in leadership such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, ethical decision making, creativity, team building, and several others. Guest speakers from industry and academia lead classes and foster discussion. The course has consistently received highly ranked evaluations from participants. This year, PLS introduced three new topics; ‘Managing Your Career’, ‘The Global Workforce’ and ‘Moving from a Tech Specialist to Manager’. The program logistics changed for the Spring 2009 semester, by moving from Wednesday nights to Monday nights. This has allowed for different types of students to take advantage of the course (we’ve seen an increase in students who are currently employed in industry). This new timing will continue into the Fall 2009 semester. Beginning in Fall 2007, the Provost took financial sponsorship of the PLS through a costsharing program with the Fuel Cell IGERT program at Rensselaer. The PLS is a required course for students participating in the NSEC and the Fuel Cell IGERT program.

Graduate Student Research Workshop

Rensselaer’s second annual Nanotechnology Research Workshop was focused this year on student and postdoctoral presentations and took place just before our Industry Partners Meeting in the Fall of 2008. Each NSEC student and postdoctoral researcher was asked to make a 20min presentation of their research. This full day workshop, attended by many of the faculty as well, lead to fruitful discussions and a more complete understanding by the students of Center research. Students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty responded very positively to this workshop. This year the focus was primarily on NSEC presentations and did not include an outside speaker or panelists. This kept the focus on the NSEC and on intra-center collaborations.


Postdoctoral Researcher Mentoring

The postdoctoral researchers in our NSEC are mentored throughout their stay in the Center. They are given professional development guidance for their future careers in academia and/or industry. Signifi cant opportunities for guiding graduate and undergraduate students are made available, and these activities are overseen by faculty advisors. Mentoring on research proposal writing and on intellectual property disclosure and patenting is also made available. The NSEC faculty are quite proactive in all of these important areas of postdoctoral researcher and workforce development.