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Cornell NanoScale Facility
2018 Annual Meeting ::
Wednesday, October 3, 2018







Simon Wheeler,
Cornell University Photography


Becoming a National Resource: Cornell NanoScale Facility (CNF) and Postwar American Academic Research 

Cyrus Mody (C.C.M.), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University

Web Site: https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/c.mody


Plenary Video


After World War Two, American universities reorganized, with government support, for the Cold War confrontation with the Soviet Union. Cornell was in the top tier of universities which took advantage of Cold War conditions, as evidenced by the founding of organizations such as the Cornell Center for Materials Research. However, by the early 1970s military requirements were less pressing, and the American public wanted university scientists and engineers to instead confront a series of national crises: the urban crisis, environmental crisis, energy crisis, and the crisis in global economic competitiveness. In this talk I show how the CNF and its predecessors (going back to the National Research and Resource Facility for Submicron Structures, founded in 1977) built on the Cold War track record of the CCMR but adapted that model to deal with the rapidly changing national conditions of the 1970s and beyond. The story of CCMR and the CNF is one of remarkable continuity over almost sixty years, but also of constant change – the CNF alone has had five names in four decades! More importantly, the story of the CNF is the story of postwar American research and vice versa. That is, the CNF has been shaped by very large national and global trends, but it has also shaped the research system in turn.

Prof. Mody is an historian of recent science and technology, specifically the applied physical sciences in the USA since 1965. He studies the commercialization of academic research, countercultural science and technology, and the longue durée of responsible research and innovation (RRI). He teaches in the FASoS Arts and Culture bachelor program and the research master’s Cultures of Arts, Science, and Technology as well as occasionally in the Maastricht Science Program.

Figure 1:
Program for the first Gordon Research Conference on the Chemistry and Physics of Microstructure Fabrication, 1976 – the year of the NSF competition to select a National Research and Resource Facility for Submicron Structures (forerunner of the CNF). Note the speakers who were later integral to the success of the NRRFSS: Wolf, Everhart, and MacDonald.



Figure 2: Aerial view of Cornell Engineering Quad from Engineering: Cornell Quarterly, Autumn 1983. Note the Knight laboratory in the southeast corner with the µ painted on top.

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