Monday, April 27, 2009

A Ribbon is Cut…

…and now the work of building a world-class, state-of-the-art nanotechnology research facility really begins.

The speakers (Prof. Jim Meindl, GT President G.P. Peterson, USG Chancellor Erroll Davis, and Mr. Bernie Marcus) at last Friday’s dedication ceremony for the Marcus Nanotechnology Building all spoke about the opportunity that this facility, with its forward looking and flexible design and room for considerable expansion, offers to the state, region and nation. We are all cognizant of the potential for nanoscience and nanoengineering to fundamentally alter a vast array of businesses including manufacturing, energy, consumer electronics, and healthcare. If we consider this effort a journey, then the hardest part, in which we are currently engaged, may be in “packing our bags” and “preparing the itinerary”. While there has been considerable preparation to get us to this point, the work of outfitting the Marcus facility with the right tools and staffing it with experienced staff is our current challenge.

The other observation I wanted to make about the dedication ceremony was the wide variety of individuals (numbering over 200) who attended. These interested parties represented Georgia Tech administration and faculty, donors and potential donors, building design and construction, equipment vendors, state of Georgia, NRC users, and NRC personnel. We all had our own reasons for attending, but it was interesting in speaking with people to understand their perceptions of nanotechnology and the potential for its application in science and business. At various times I discussed how nanotechnology is and will continue to impact biomedical research, such as the detection and treatment of cancer. Others were interested in applications in electronics, and the role graphene may play as the next generation successor to silicon. Finally, each of the speakers were unanimous in their desire that Georgia Tech and the state of Georgia play a preeminent role in the nanotech economy, with the NRC as a center for research, education, and commercialization. This is a lofty goal, requiring collaboration and coordination between disparate organizations, some existing and some needing to be established.

I also want to congratulate the staff of the NRC for all of their efforts that culminated in Friday’s celebration. Now let’s get to work.

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