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New classes: Nanotechnology

Senior Haruhiko Kuramochi poses next to a model of a carbon nanotube. The new Nanotechnology class was offered first semester of the 2014-2015 school year. Photo by Lisa Wesoloski.


Teachers: Robert Cormia and Lisa Wesoloski

Year/Semester class: Semester class

Credits: This course meets the “g” requirement for CSU/UC. (UC “d” fulfillment pending approval.) Credits are CSU/UC transferrable.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of Biology and Chemistry or Physics.

Nanotechnology provides an introduction to ideas of nanoscale science and emphasizes applications of physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and environmental science. Heavily discussion and lab based, the class explores topics from nanostructures to semiconductor technology and nanotech safety.

According to Nanotechnology teacher Robert Cormia, the class offers the opportunity of a hands-on experience in the growing field of nanoscience, in addition to the chance to use cutting-edge technology.

“This course builds on a solid science foundation in chemistry and physics and provides an introduction to the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology,” Cormia said. “We conduct demonstrations, experiments and a field trip to Stanford University. Students should expect to build a rich vocabulary, conceptual knowledge and hands-on skills , working with nanoparticles and making measurements related to materials engineering. All students have the opportunity to learn to use a Scanning Electron Microscope and practice measurements on an Atomic Force Microscope.”

Seniors Andrew Wilson and Paloma Tracy on the overall rigor of the class:


“Nanotech had very little homework other than four to five questions per week about what we learned,” Wilson said. “There were three group projects and a few labs, which included answering some pre-lab and post-lab questions.”

“Less than one hour of homework each day,” Tracy said. “And one hour over the weekend.”


“I would recommend this class if you are willing to sit through some long class periods,” Wilson said. “The teachers are very nice, and they make sure that you leave the class knowing some very basic nanotechnology. Remember that this is a survey course and that the teachers cannot go into too much detail.”

“I would definitely recommend this class to other students because it is unlike any class I have ever taken,” Tracy said. “The subject is unique, exciting, and increasingly relevant in regard to the environment, medicine, energy storage, the electronics industry, and much more. Go to the Saturday microscopy sessions at Foothill College — you may never get another opportunity like it — and take advantage of Mr. Cormia’s extensive knowledge — he is always excited to discuss his personal interests in the future of nanotechnology.”

Favorite Part:

“My favorite part of the class was the opportunity to use Foothill’s microscopy lab [outside of class] where I got to use a scanning electron microscope and an atomic force microscope,” Wilson said.

“My favorite part of the class was the professors [Cormia and Ms. Wesolowski] because they were super knowledgeable in their fields and always excited to share their past experiences and wisdom with us,” Tracy said.

Overall Rating out of 10:

Wilson: “I would give the class a 7.5 out of 10 because we attempted some very interesting labs and had good discussions about science. I only give it a 7.5 because the teachers … had never done [some of the labs] before, among other things, and the first month of class was a review of basic chemistry and physics.”

Tracy: “I give it a 9 out of 10.”

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About the Contributors
Claire Krugler, Author
Wesley Woo, Author

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