Education & Outreach



CNST is providing outreach programs to the K-12 community that introduces science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) careers to students at all ages.

Partnering with the College of Engineering’s annual Engineering Open House allows students and faculty to participate in hands-on experiments, competitions, and tour labs and facilities. CNST has won awards for exhibits in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, CNST- sponsored NanoSTRuCT won in the "Transform Your World" category. In 2015, two exhibits one awards in the categories of "Most Innovative Exhibit" and "The Future Starts Here": nano@illinois Research Experiences for Teachers) and Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology Student Initiative (CNST-SI).

NanoSTRuCT volunteers and CNST staff
with Booker T. Washington STEM Academy students
and affiliates

Through NanoSTRuCT (Nanoscale Science and Technology Resources for Community Teaching in K-12), the University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) has expanded its educational and outreach impact by providing provides the Champaign-Urbana community with resources to explore nanoscale science and other emerging STEM technologies. This project has targeted third grade students, and other local K-12 students, including attendees at Engineering Open House and visitors to the Urbana Science at the Market. University of Illinois Public Engagement Grant funds were used to obtain supplies to lead students through multimedia-aided discussions and hands-on experiments, as well as for other outreach goals. In addition to fostering excitement about nanotechnology and other STEM fields in the third graders, this project was an opportunity for our graduate student volunteers to develop communication and leadership skills. With the support of this grant, we have established a set of teaching resources and infrastructure that will enable a more comprehensive and sustainable program for future CNST outreach endeavors.


The nano@illinois REU an NSF-funded REU site in the area of nanotechnology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The nano@illinois REU trains and mentors a diverse set of undergraduate students, including students from underrepresented minority groups, in cutting-edge research in nanotechnology. The research is guided and motivated by grand challenges facing our society and world. The REU students are part of a trans-generational educational experience in the rich and diverse nanotechnology environment at Illinois. Our goal is to solidify REU student interest in graduate research and education; to train them in critical elements of leadership, ethics, teamwork, mentoring, and outreach; and to improve their ability to communicate their research results to professional and lay audiences.

Another CNST program geared towards the retention and recruitment of undergraduates into graduate school is the summer Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). This 10-week program is focused on retention of students and developing a transition plan into graduate school. Undergraduate students work in EBICS labs and develop working relationships with graduate students and principal investigators. This REU program is targeted toward undergraduate students majoring in any of the science and engineering fields. Students conduct research at one of the three primary EBICS institutions (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, MIT or Georgia Tech). Students receive professional development and mentoring from graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. In addition, they have the opportunity to interact with fellow REU students on their campuses and participate in multi-institutional meetings with EBICS REU students at the other campuses.

Read about EBICS REU students’ experiences in summer 2013. Also, learn about EBICS REU student, Ryan Tapping, and other undergraduate's REU projects during Summer 2012.


Students gain knowledge and develop skills and appreciation for the role nanotechnology plays in shaping our future. Courses span the basic sciences, engineering sciences, and information sciences. Students are exposed to a broad, interdisciplinary set of courses that promote an understanding of nanotechnology as it applies to basic and applied research.

Curriculum is categorized in the following areas:

  • Basic Sciences: microbiology, molecular chemistry, mathematics, physics
  • Engineering Sciences: agriculture, biochemical, bioenvironmental, biomedical, electrical, materials, mechanical
  • Information Sciences: bio-computation, communications

BioNanotechnology Seminar Series

The CMMB IGERT and M-CNTC Graduate Student Leadership Council arranges speakers for each first and third Wednesday of the month.


In conjunction with the University of Illinois Physics Department, CNST showcased nanotechnology at “Science at the Market” in the 2012-2016 Urbana Farmer’s Market at Lincoln Square Mall.

CNST has also hosted the Children's Disovery Museum Girls Learning on Location, one of the University of Illinois Extension Illini Summer Academy Programs and students from the Next Generation Tech Savvy Summer Scholars Program. In addition, CNST has participated in Nano Days, Leal Science Night, Upward Bound, Children's Discovery Museum, Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA) Fusion afterschool group, Wheeling High School's NanoLab, Principal's Scholars Program, Illinois Science Education Conference, National Science Teachers Association Conference, and many other activities.

Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology-Student Initiative

The University of Illinois Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology Student Initiative is a CNST-affiliated U of I Registered Student Organization for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and senior undergraduate students in the nanoscience and nanotechnology fields. The focus of the Initiative is student-centered nanotechnology research, education, outreach, and careers. Your membership, participation, and ideas are welcome.