Recent graduate of Fairfield University's School of Engineering is first student in Connecticut to be awarded the Connecticut Nanotechnology Minor, Certificate in Nanotechnology



Image: SOE nanotechnology studentMichael Buckenmeyer, who recently graduated from Fairfield University's School of Engineering, is the first student in Connecticut to fulfill the state Department of Higher Education's requirements for a unique interdisciplinary minor program in nanotechnology.

It is a burgeoning field, one ripe with career opportunities for engineering and science students. Billions are being spent by industries to develop such nano-engineered products as cancer-fighting drugs and lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.

In Hartford, on June 22, the Connecticut Department of Higher Education Board (CTDHE) presented Buckenmeyer, of Syracuse, N.Y., with the "Connecticut Nanotechnology Minor, Certificate in Nanotechnology." In addition to majoring in mechanical engineering at Fairfield, he minored in math and nanotechnology.

"This minor in nanotechnology prepares students to work and do research in the up and coming areas impacted by nanotechnology, including engineering, medicine, energy, and electronics," said Ryan Munden, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Fairfield, who is researching the potential of solar energy in the Northeast involving nanotechnology. "We feel it is a great occurrence that one of Fairfield's own is the first to complete this course, which also shows the School of Engineering's dedication to preparing our students to work at the cutting-edge in their fields."

It was in a way a full circle moment for the School of Engineering, because the minor was developed by a committee chaired by Vagos Hadjimichael, Ph.D., the former School of Engineering dean who stepped down from the post last year to return to teaching at the university. In 2007, he received a grant from the CTDHE and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technologies (CCAT) to lead a team of educators from universities throughout Connecticut for the purpose of organizing a curriculum platform for the nanotechnology minor and certificate.

The state and schools joined forces to develop the minor with the intention to better prepare Connecticut's workforce for the growing nanotechnology industries. It is a field that utilizes knowledge from the areas of physics, biology, chemistry, materials science and engineering. The certificate for completing the minor is awarded by the Board of Governors, Connecticut Department of Higher Education, rather than by individual institutions. The minor consists of courses, along with experiential learning in fabrication and characterization of nano-materials, and there is standard curriculum for all participating Connecticut colleges and universities.

For Buckenmeyer, his course research projects at the School of Engineering spanned nanomedicine for diabetes treatment, tissue regeneration, magnetic random access memory, and implantable nanopiezotronic blood pressure sensors. He also did research for his senior project in nanotechnology in the School of Engineering's labs, under Munden's guidance. Buckenmeyer's Fairfield studies also fueled his interest in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. "These fields of research are almost fully dependent upon nanotechnology, and without taking the courses in nanotech, I never would have discovered such an interesting and prevalent career path," he said.

For more information about Fairfield's School of Engineering, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/soe/.

Image: In Hartford, at a Connecticut Department of Higher Education Board meeting June 22, Michael Buckenmeyer '11, a Fairfield University engineering graduate, was presented with the state's first "Connecticut Nanotechnology Minor, Certificate in Nanotechnology." (L-R) Frank W. Ridley, chairman of the Board of Governors for Higher Education; Buckenmeyer; and Ryan Munden, assistant professor of electrical engineering.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 23, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 329