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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
January 18, 2005
Volume 40, Number 6

UNM-Gallup develops role in nanotechnology field

By Linda Thornton

UNM-Gallup is positioning itself to play a major role in developing a workforce for the cutting edge nanotechnology field.

What is nanotechnology? According to Heberto Ochoa-Morales, assistant professor of Business Management and Technology at UNM-Gallup, it was developed in the weapons industry and involves building and design on a very minuscule scale, both atomic and molecular.

And, as the technology emerges, engineers are finding uses for it in a phenomenal range of applications—from health care to manufacturing.

“We’re talking about building elements of systems that are one billionth of a meter,” Ochoa-Morales said. “That’s 10 to the ninth power.”

Ochoa-Morales has been working with a consortium of experts, including the New Mexico Economic Development Department, to discuss how UNM-Gallup could help with workforce development in this area. Interest has been expressed in the region by manufacturers who use nanotechnology because of the tax-free opportunities Indian reservation locations afford.

The current project under consideration is called MEMS, or Micro-Electro Management Systems, which involves microfabrication of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators and electronics on a common silicon layer.

In October, Steve Walsh, Alfred Black professor of entrepreneurship and co-director of the Technology Management Center at UNM’s Anderson Schools of Management, and co-founder of the Micro and Nanotechnology Commercialization Education Foundation, made a presentation to UNM-Gallup administration and asked the college to become a member of MANCEF.

Other principals were Victor Chavez, manager of Sandia’s Corporate Business Development and Partnerships, and Michael Orshan, director of Science and Technology for the State of New Mexico.

The group visited UNM-Gallup’s Zuni Campus. Impressed with what they saw, they discussed the possibility of making Zuni a training center, or as Ochoa-Morales explained, “an area where industry could develop with infrastructures we have there.”