News

December 10, 2007

Exploring the World of Nanotechnology

Brittany Futterknecht ’11 writes about her First-Year Seminar

Brittany Futterknecht ’11 (Demarest, N.J.) is taking the First-Year Seminar “Nanotechnology and Modern Society,” taught by James Ferri, associate professor of chemical engineering. Futterknecht is a member of the women’s soccer team.

I chose “Nanotechnology and Modern Society” from all of the First-Year Seminars because it seemed like it would be extremely interesting and also because I didn’t know anything about it. I was intrigued by the idea of nanotechnology and I really wanted to learn more about it.

I have learned so much, not only about what nanotechnology is, but about its potential impact on the world, both negative and positive. I’ve learned about many different things from how to see things at the nano-scale and how to manipulate things at the nano-scale, to how nanotechnology can help make huge advancements in medicine and many other areas.

Personally, I am not an engineering major, so in the beginning of the semester I was a little nervous because almost everyone else in the class was an engineering major. I was scared that I would be lost in the class and not understand anything. However, Professor Ferri explained everything so well that I was actually able to keep up and learn so, so much. I think he is a great teacher. He is extremely knowledgeable about all of the information that he teaches us and he explains the information very well so that we can really understand it.

Not only was Professor Ferri a good teacher in class, but he set up a lot of activities outside class which really brought the class together. We had two movie nights where Professor Ferri ordered dinner and dessert. These nights were a lot of fun. Also, we had a class lunch together in the faculty room of Marquis which was extremely good.

During the semester, there were also many speakers who came to Lafayette that Professor Ferri suggested that we go hear. These speakers were fascinating and I enjoyed going to see them.

I have also enjoyed getting hands-on experience. These last two weeks of class we are going to be in the lab actually reproducing things that we learned about in class. I really like that kind of hands-on experience because it allows me to understand the information better as I actually get to see it.

The main promise of this new technology is to make many new advancements in not only medicine, but also in the economy. However, there are disadvantages that come along with nanotechnology. There are three main ethical and social issues: equality (the split between the rich and the poor), convergence (nanotechnology becoming a monopoly that can potentially control the world), and toxicity (which includes the environmental impacts).

Even though there are potential ramifications of nanotechnology, I’ve learned that one needs to consider the positives and the negatives before making any judgments about it. All of the negative ramifications aren’t definite at this point. There is always more research that needs to be done.

  • First-Year Experiences
  • First-Year Seminar
  • Class of 2011
  • Chemical Engineering

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