Select Page


Competencies give students a competitive advantage when planning studies and preparing for jobs and careers.
Educators are better equipped to plan curriculum and teaching strategies that serve the nano industry needs.

Why Competencies?

We are seeing an explosion of interest in a Competency Focus and Competency-Based Education (CBE) on the part of students, institutions, employers, and policymakers. With the cost of higher education sky rocketing, recent graduates struggling to find good jobs, and real questions about how much students are actually learning, colleges and universities are under more pressure than ever to equip students for career and life success. CBE has the potential to address a variety of the challenges facing higher education – from cost, to relevancy, to transparency of learning outcomes – by shifting the measure of student learning from seat time to mastery.

CBE at community colleges has received less attention, despite its close fit with the more career-focused programs at 2-year institutions. In fact, for many community colleges, competencies have been at the core of their instructional design models as they strive to meet the needs of regional employers and adult learners seeking industry-recognized skills and credentials. –College for America article, The New CBE Consortium, 2015


Testimonials from the field:

Where Do Competencies Come From?


The Department of Labor has set up a website with tools, resources and experts at your disposal:


The National Center for Materials Technology Education, a Nano-Link partner has developed competencies for the materials technologist:

A paper discussing the competency need in Nanotechnology:

  Educational Needs In Nanotechnology

DOL Building Blocks – Competency Levels


What Do Nano-Link Competencies Look Like?

Nano-Link competencies are intended to give the user/viewer a look at what a nano technician needs to know/be able to do. They are at a high/general level and can be looked at as a “guide” for study/instruction planning.

We distinguish between Complimentary vs. Essential skill sets (i.e.: we don’t necessarily teach Algebra, but it’s a complimentary skill/knowledge to what you do teach).

The Nano-Link Essential skill set has been categorized into Technical and Non-Technical.


Equipment Safety – Trouble Shooting – Maintenence Operational Skills/Theory
Lab Safety – Clean Room Procedures – Personal Protective Procedures
Sense of Scale – Powers of Ten
Analysis – Measurement Statistics Metrology
Use of Scientific Method
Report Writing – Presentation
Foundational Understanding of General Science – Physics | Biology | Chemistry
Use of Computer, Software, Camera
Basic Understanding of Electronic/Electrical Properties
Basic Understanding of Material Properties


Observation Skills
Documentation Skills – Lab Notebook
Written & Oral Communication
Critical Thinking
Teamwork – Leading & Following
Risk Assimilation – FEARLESSNESS
Business Writing
Lab Voice
21st Century Skills a.k.a. Power Skills
4-Cs – Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication


How Do N-L Modules Align With the Next Generation Science Standards?

Nano-Link partnered with McRel in 2014 to assess each of the N-L modules against the Next Generation Science Standards. Each module was “graded” (strongly aligned – weakly aligned) on the three components of the NGSS: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts. This information is being used to help the N-L associates and affiliates improve the modules. An example of the exercise is below for the Surface Area to Volume Ratio Module.

Download NGSS Alignment Matrix Example for Surface Area to Volume Ratio