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Friday, July 22, 2011

The jobs of the near future

The field that will employ the largest number of newly trained people is the one concerning the manufacturing of products that contain rare-earth elements.
These products include phosphors for lighting and displays as well as magnets for electric motors, wind turbines, cell phones, and of course computers.
In addition, a smaller number of scientists and engineers will be needed to process the elements into the metals that go into magnets and batteries or into the compounds required for phosphors and catalysts.
Others will be needed to explore for sources of ore and to work in mining.
Students with a solid background in rare earths and the fundamentals of chemistry, materials science, and engineering will be needed.
So the need of a dedicated national research center at a college or university with a long tradition in the study of what has become a largely forgotten area of science and engineering.
The industry’s only real alternative is to turn to China, which is already training hundreds of students in this field.
But that would simply re-create the problem US is struggling with: relying on others for such a crucial part of their technological infrastructure.
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