Careers in Nanotechnology: Where to begin

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1. After having done some research into which undergraduate degrees (of personal interest) would be most aptly suited to a future career in nanotechnology I have arrived upon the following majors:

-Engineering Physics
-Materials Science

a. I would like to know what roles nanotechnology plays (or may play) in these fields.

b. I would also like to know, for each role, the state of its development and implementation. Is it still primarily in the phase of research? If so, what would be a reasonable projection for its implementation into industry? Or, if it has already made it into industry, to what extent?

2. If you can advise me on which of the above majors may be the best path for me, personally, please take note of the following considerations:

-My brain is wired more towards that of an engineer than a scientist.
-I would love to do work in physical chemistry or experimental physics.
-I would like to work at the forefront of technological innovation, particularly with regard to developing understanding of theoretical physics. I find this prospect most tantalizing.
-Hopes and dreams wont pay my bills. I'll be 24 when I begin my undergraduate degree. While I'd prefer to work in research at a national laboratory, pursuing a PhD and doing post doc work might not be practical. I'll have to use loans for my education, and who knows if I'll even get that research job when the time comes. From what I've read competition is stiff. On the other hand, CE's and NE's make good money right out of school, working for industry with a BS.

Your thoughts are much appreciated
"Nanotech" is really just a buzzword. Almost any branch of physics, chemistry, or engineering will tie into the nano world. It really depends on what area you're interested in.

If you are interested in nanotech as it relates to the electronics industry, I would get a BSEE and an MSEE. That should take you around six years to complete, so you should be able to finish everything by the time you're 30. There are numerous subfields of electrical engineering that tie into nanotechnology, such as semiconductor devices, VLSI, semiconductor processing, and MEMS.

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