Wise nanoeducation investment or nano-pork?

Given the increasing protest from U.S. voters over the growing problem of “pork” spending by Congress, it behooves us in the nanotech field to develop criteria for nanotech projects. Here’s an example from the May 2006 Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report (similar report in Milwaukee Business Journal):

“Department of Commerce
Funding: Chippewa Valley Technical College
Funding Announced: 5/16/06
Funding Amount: $1.5 million
Notes: Chippewa Valley Tech, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and UW-Stout have formed a partnership to grow, retain, attract and develop new technologies. In January 2005, Chippewa Valley Tech began offering the first-year nanoscience degree, one of only two such degrees in the U.S. The $1.5 million from the DOC will help to create a $5.5 million nanotechnology incubator that is expected to create 650 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment. Construction of the center is expected to begin in the fall of2006. ”

How can we decide whether this is a good use of U.S. taxpayer spending on nanotech? Why this school rather than others? Might scholarships be a better use of the funds? I’m not judging here, just asking these questions before the public starts doing so. —Christine

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