Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $250,000 investment in Wheeling High School for equipment that will prepare students for careers in nanotechnology. The Governor also welcomed United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the school to tour their cutting-edge nanotechnology lab. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to prepare every child for success in college, career and beyond.
"We must prepare our students for careers in emerging fields like nanotechnology for Illinois to continue attracting high-skill, high-wage jobs," Governor Quinn said. "Illinois is already a national leader in nanotechnology, and programs like these will better prepare students to compete in the global economy."
Secretary Duncan today visited the Wheeling High School nanotechnology lab. Equipment in the lab is state-of-the-art, and mirrors that found in some top higher education institutions. Nanotechnology courses housed at the lab will be open to all 12,000 Township High School District 214 students. Wheeling is also incorporating nanotechnology programming within its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Summer Camp, which offers weeklong courses in STEM subjects for area students in grades one through eight. The summer program currently serves close to 300 students from across the Chicago region.
"District 214 is proud to build on our strong reputation as a leader in STEM education," former Wheeling High School Principal and District 214 Associate Superintendent for Teaching & Learning Lazaro Lopez said. "Wheeling High School has been integrating nanotechnology into their traditional science courses for several years, and we are excited to have the capability to offer all District 214 students a nanotechnology course."
The $250,000 state investment will be administered by the Illinois Science and Technology Institute, established to advance STEM education by creating partnerships between the private sector, research universities and the state of Illinois. The Institute is the lead entity for the Research and Development STEM Learning Exchange, a public-private collaboration formed as part of Illinois Pathways, a $10.3 million initiative launched last year by Governor Quinn and funded in part through the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top initiative.
The Illinois Science and Technology Institute is part of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, a member-driven, non-profit organization that works to cultivate and attract research and technology-based investment, talent and job growth in the state. Through strategic public-private partnerships, advocacy efforts and project management, ISTC connects government, academia and industry to leverage the state's world-class resources to enhance Illinois' position as a global hub for research, innovation and entrepreneurship. For more information, visit istcoalition.org.
"Advances in nanotechnology have the potential to revolutionize every sector of our economy, from healthcare to clean water and energy," Coalition President and CEO Mark Harris said. "Through our efforts to strengthen the talent pipeline by connecting educators, businesses and government, we can make sure these advances -- and the jobs that come with them -- are developed here in Illinois."
By 2015, the market for nanotechnology products will be worth more than $26 billion and the industry will require two million workers and approximately six million supporting positions worldwide. At least 50 companies in Illinois perform nanotechnology work, the tenth highest number in the nation. Illinois ranks eighth in the nation in high-tech employment and seventh in academic and government research.