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Partnership with Nanotechnology Company Brings New Opportunities to Multiple Science Majors

A partnership announced in June will allow a new nanotechnology company, Resonant Microsystems Inc., in the area to use UW-Eau Claire facilities,including the Materials Science Center, for research and provide internships to science majors.

Resonant Microsystems Inc., 2322 Alpine Road, which specializes in micro electrical mechanical systems, will do quality control research for its Eau Claire products, while production will occur at Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Doug Dunham, director of the Material Sciences Center, said the partnership has been in the works for three years and is pretty open- ended as far as its duration.

Resonant Microsystems now pays a standard fee for using Eau Claire facilities, but Dunham said a subcontract is being developed that would have the company help pay for equipment in the Material Sciences Center that could be used by students and the company.

"We love to help them out," Dunham said, "because it gives our students opportunities that they wouldn't have had otherwise."

Currently, Resonant Microsystems, which is leasing property in the NanoRite Innovation Center, is working on fuse chips through a U.S. Department of Defense grant.

The chips are meant to better control detonations of ammunition.

"(Eau Claire's) material science program has a lot of cool testing equipment to characterize materials and to measure dimensions," said Frank Bucheger, general manager of Resonant Microsystems. "They can help us identify the materials in our product … which is especially important in quality control."

This fall is the first semester that Eau Claire has offered the material sciences major.

There was one student enrolled in the new program on the first day of classes Tuesday, Dunham said.

Dunham said the program is starting with new students and incoming freshmen because work is still being done to create upper-level courses for the major.

Senior Joel Peppler, a physics and engineering double major, is one of three interns hired at Resonant Microsystems.

Peppler said much of the work he has done for the company has been researching equipment and figuring out how to drastically cut the weight and cost of the chips.

"I'm really excited about this because it's practical work experience," Peppler said.

Peppler said he benefits much more from actually performing the research than simply sitting in a classroom and learning theory.

Though the project and the material sciences program is starting slow, Dunham said he hopes there will be larger projects to tackle with Resonant Microsystems in the future.

"We're hoping to work on some bigger projects too down the road here," he said. "Some basic research things to help them design better products."

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