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Friday, April 22, 2005

On Wisconsin!

As a resident of Minnesota, I have a natural aversion to most things coming out of Wisconsin--notably Green Bay Packer fans. (I make a big exception, however, for cheese and beer--especially the latter.) I also make an exception for the extraordinary leadership state leaders--especially Bill Ihlenfeldt, president of the Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC)--have demonstrated on pushing the topic of nanotechnology to the forefront of the state's educational and economic development agenda.

In January of 2004, I gave a talk on nanotechnology at CVTC. Within a month, Bill had hired me to take look at the economic development opportunities for the state in nanotechnology. In the meantime, he was also organizing the creation of a two-year degree program at CVTC. Less than 8 months later the program was up and operational! In the educational world, where change often occurs at a glacial pace, the accomplishment was notable for its speed alone. Today, less than a year after connocting the idea, the program already has a waiting list of students and appears poised to grow bigger and better in the years ahead.

Yesterday, Bill met with the Governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle. He is now pushing an even larger nanotech initiative. I have every reason to believe he'll be successful and, as a Minnesotan, I'll admit I'm jealous. I have tried to capture the attention of MInnesota's state leaders to little effect.

Bill's actions demonstrate that what is needed are champions. If you feel your state is lagging behind in nanotech, don't wait for someone else to lead the charge--just pick up the mantle like Bill Ilhenfeldt did. It's amazing what can get done when people do.

(Note: Today, I had an article published in Small Times talking about the need for states to focus on nanotechnology education. I encourage you to read it here).

Jack Uldrich

Related Links:
Nanotechnology as an Economic Development Tool