Thursday, January 06, 2005

Learning a living with Luna

Luna offers students a glimpse of the future (Danville, Va., Register & Bee)

    Sixteen-year-old Carrie Crews feels confident that when her education is completed, she will be able to remain in Danville and find work.

    A student at the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology and an 11th-grader at Langston Global Village, Crews was one of the 132 Governor’s School students from the Danville and Henry County sites and a dozen instructors and school administrators who attended Luna Innovation’s nanotechnology presentation at the Institute for Advanced Learning & Research on Wednesday.

    “Yes, this would entice people to stay here and make a life in Danville,” Crews said. The Governor School sites usually meet twice a year, allowing the community to showcase what it can offer the students after they complete their education, according to Brian Pace, director of the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology.

    “This was a practical application for something going on at your own front door,” Pace said. “We want to encourage the students to do great things right here in this community.” Since Luna Innovations has decided to locate its nanomanufacturing facility in Danville, the area’s students will face new technological education and employment opportunities. Luna Innovations is investing over $6.4 million to renovate an area of the Danville Tobacco Warehouse District to produce carbonaceous nanomaterials for research to use in health care for cancer tumor therapy and in telecommunications by having faster computers. Luna also researches the use of nanomaterials in biotechnology and military defense.

    “There is a huge initiative in biotechnical areas of cancer, therapeutics and imagery,” said Charles Gause, vice president of Luna Innovations’ Danville Division. “There is a lot of chemistry involved, but it is a different way of thinking.” Gause said Danville’s strong manufacturing capabilities and technological initiatives lured the company to the area. Luna hopes to begin operations by first quarter and Gause said he expects 54 jobs for local people within the year, then increasing to 150 jobs within the next two or three years. Job qualifications include a minimum of an associate’s degree in manufacturing or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, he said. More here

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