KEYWORDS: Thin films, Nanoparticles, Microscopy, Atomic force microscopy, Scanning electron microscopy, Transmission electron microscopy, Electron microscopy, Atomic force microscope, Analytical research, Internships
Preparing an effective workforce in high technology is the goal of both academic and industry training, and has been the engine that drives innovation and product development in the United States for over a century. During the last 50 years, technician training has comprised a combination of two-year academic programs, internships and apprentice training, and extensive On-the-Job Training (OJT). Recently, and especially in Silicon Valley, technicians have four-year college degrees, as well as relevant hands-on training. Characterization in general, and microscopy in particular, is an essential tool in process development, manufacturing and QA/QC, and failure analysis. Training for a broad range of skills and practice is challenging, especially for community colleges. Workforce studies (SRI/Boeing) suggest that even four year colleges often do not provide the relevant training and experience in laboratory skills, especially design of experiments and analysis of data. Companies in high-tech further report difficulty in finding skilled labor, especially with industry specific experience. Foothill College, in partnership with UCSC, SJSU, and NASA-Ames, has developed a microscopy training program embedded in a research laboratory, itself a partnership between university and government, providing hands-on experience in advanced instrumentation, experimental design and problem solving, with real-world context from small business innovators, in an environment called ‘the collaboratory’. The program builds on AFM-SEM training at Foothill, and provides affordable training in FE-SEM and TEM through a cost recovery model. In addition to instrument and engineering training, the collaboratory also supports academic and personal growth through a multiplayer social network of students, faculty, researchers, and innovators.