Dakota County Technical College is offering what is believed to be the only year-long nanotechnology program for high school students in the country.

Brad Dow. Remember the name; it could be the answer to a science or engineering essay question someday.

At least, that is what the Farmington High School junior is hoping as he enters the field of nanotechnology through a novel program at Dakota County Technical College.

“The nanotechnology field is very young now,” said Dow, 17. “It’d be great if I was the answer to an essay question in the future about nanotech.”

Dow is one of about 20 high school students from Farmington and Burnsville, Minn., enrolled in the nanotech class at the college.

Nanotechnology involves manipulating matter or creating things at the molecular or atomic levels. Although it is often a source of fodder for science-fiction writers and fictional doomsday machines, in practical terms nanotechnology has present-day applications for building lighter planes and stronger buildings, treating cancers, or even mundane things like creating wrinkle-free clothing.

For more news about nanotechnology in education, see:

Nanotechnology program targets schools

School officials started the class as a way to get students into the burgeoning field. Eventually, the classes will be taught in high schools using high school teachers.

“Nanoscience is fairly new,” said Deb Newberry, the course instructor at the college. “They are learning something that not a lot of people are learning about in college or beyond.”

The field is so new that Newberry said only about eight technical colleges in the country, including Dakota, offer two-year degrees in the field. Dakota started its program in 2004 and said it is seen as the model program in the country for nanotechnology.