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Updated / Emerging Occupations

Nanoengineer

Nanoengineers design and develop materials, devices, and systems of unique molecular, atomic, or macromolecular composition. They do this by combining principles of nanoscale physics or chemistry with those of electrical, chemical, materials, and biological engineering.

This is an emerging occupation. It may have evolved from an existing occupation or emerged in response to consumer needs or technological advances.

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Nanoengineering refers to engineering done at the nanoscale. Particles at the nanoscale range from 1 to 100 nanometres (nm) in size. A nanometre is 1 billionth of a metre, or 0.000000001 m. Nanomaterials such as atoms, molecules, and proteins display properties that are not visible at the macroscopic scale (the naked eye).

The properties of particles at the macroscopic scale can be different from the properties of the same material at the nanoscale. For example, at the macroscopic scale, we see gold as yellow. However, the colour of a gold nanoparticle is red.

Nanoengineers use specialized equipment to work with particles at the nanoscale. They can create large changes in the physical properties of materials. For example, a material can be made stronger, more reflective, or better at conducting electricity. This can trigger behaviours not often seen at a larger scale.

Nanotechnology has applications across many industries, products, and processes. It is used in:

  • Power production
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Textiles
  • Cosmetics
  • Foods
  • Coatings
  • Automobiles
  • Sporting goods

The safety of nanomaterials is an emerging area of work due to their widespread application.

Duties vary greatly from one industry to another. In general, nanoengineers:

  • Conduct research in fields within nanotechnology such as nanolithography
  • Create designs or prototypes for applying nanosystems such as integrated biomedical diagnostic-and-delivery (lab-on-a-chip) circuits
  • Design or engineer nanomaterials, nanodevices, nano-enabled products, or nanosystems
  • Use software techniques such as 3-D computer-aided design (CAD), machine learning, and quantum mechanical simulation
  • Design or conduct tests of new nanotechnology products, processes, or systems
  • Develop processes for applications such as nanofabrication
  • Identify equipment needed for pilot or commercial nanoscale production

Nanoengineers provide scientific or technical guidance and expertise to scientists, engineers, technologists, technicians, and others who work with micro and nanoscale systems.

They also:

  • Prepare invention disclosures and patent applications
  • Prepare reports, make presentations, and participate in program reviews to share engineering results and recommendations
  • Coordinate or supervise suppliers or vendors who design, build, or test nanosystem devices

Other occupations in this field include nanoscientist and nanotechnologist.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Nanoengineers often work in offices, plants, and laboratories. In a management or senior position, they may spend more time working in an office.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Nanoengineers need:

  • Scientific curiosity
  • An aptitude for physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, or engineering
  • Analytical thinking
  • Communication and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work independently or as part of a team
  • The ability to visualize complex processes and equipment

They should enjoy being innovative and doing precision work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Most emerging occupations develop from more than one occupation. People working in this occupation may come from a variety of education and training backgrounds. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should contact associations and employers in this field to investigate education options and employment possibilities.

The minimum education requirement for nanoengineering is a bachelor’s degree in engineering. This must include a specialization in nanotechnology or a related field.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

The University of Alberta in Edmonton offers a 4-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Engineering. The program includes specializations in the following areas:

  • Computer Engineering: Nanoscale System Design Option
  • Electrical Engineering: Nanoengineering Option
  • Engineering Physics: Nanoengineering Option

Research positions generally require graduate degrees. Both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary offer graduate degree programs in nanoengineering. Many faculty members in engineering, science, and medicine do related research. Graduate students may come from traditional engineering disciplines, physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, or computer science.

Nanoengineering is still a new field and is developing quickly. To stay successful, people in this field must continually upgrade their knowledge and skills.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Engineer

Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor, and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes, and structures.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Emerging occupations typically are the result of:

  • An increased human need
  • Technological advances
  • Greater specialization within an occupation

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, it can be difficult to define advancement opportunities or employment outlook. Some Albertans already are working in this emerging occupation, but future demand for it is unknown.

Nanoengineers work for:

  • Universities and other organizations that do research and development
  • Manufacturing and other private sector firms
  • Engineering consulting firms
  • Government departments and agencies

Nanoengineers often work in a multidisciplinary environment. They gain knowledge and skills through work experience. This provides an opening into associated areas of science, engineering, sales, marketing, or management.

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment

Explore emerging workplace trends in Alberta that could affect this occupation.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, no current provincial salary data is available for this occupation.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Nanotechnology Research Centre website: nrc.canada.ca

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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