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Nanotechnology software enables students to design molecular machines

High school students in the COSMOS program were treated to an early version of the NanoEngineer-1 modeling software for atomically-precise nanotechnology. Foresight Director of Education Miguel Aznar reported to Nanorex president Mark Sims on the nanotech course results:

Success! NanoEngineer-1 greatly enhanced my nanotechnology class. My students were excited to manipulate and simulate the world we discussed in lecture. Thank you and Eric Messick (who helped in five computer lab sessions and attended the final presentations) very much for making this possible. Thanks, too, to Eric Drexler, who fielded my students’ questions by telephone. I would like to repeat this next year.

Eric Messick and I recognized three categories of student achievement with NanoEngineer-1:

Most ambitious (Matt’s conversion of rotary motion to linear)
Most destructive (Zach’s argon gun)
Most fun (Richard, Teresa, Lizzie, and Arille collaborating to create Rube Goldberg style machines).

…I have the animations (posted at and PowerPoint slides, but not the design files.

Some of these designs take quite a while to download, but the best one (the first one) loads fast. If high schoolers can do this well, why can’t we grown-ups? We’ll find out when NanoEngineer-1 is officially launched, not long from now.

If the designs seem ambitious and hard to build — and they should — keep in mind the expected lifespans of the designers. They’ve got lots of time to see their designs (and these even more impressive ones) become real.

Nanorex is offering free software and support to qualifying educational programs:

If you are a high school teacher or university professor interested in trying NanoEngineer-1, send us an email at If you qualify for our Educational Outreach Program, you and your students will receive free packaged software and support. We can also assist you in developing tutorials and workbook exercises to introduce students to the fundamentals of 3D molecular modeling and molecular mechanics theory.

Sign up now before they are swamped. Surely they can’t provide free support to everyone. Tell ‘em Foresight sent ya. —Christine

7 Responses to “Nanotechnology software enables students to design molecular machines”

  1. Adam Says:

    I’m curious if when working on such a precise scale, could Rube Goldberg inspired machines be a workable reality? Since there are no monkeys and no balloons at the nanoscale, I’m sure we could design some productive machines in this fashion.

    On a more academic note. This software would have made my Creative Technologies Class in college (with an introduction to nano) a thousand times more interesting and relevant to non-chemical engineers.

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  7. ress geller Says:

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