Project management emerged from the engineering and construction industries in the second half of the last century to dominate in systems and information technology (IT). More recently, the area of interest has migrated to project portfolio management because of the large number of IT projects, relatively smaller than in construction, that many and diverse companies typically attempt to undertake to remain competitive. Computer innovation and software development represent fundamentally new technologies that have driven this change.
For those not familiar with nanotechnology, or "nanotech" as it is referred to, Wikipedia gives us some insight:
"Nanotech is the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures of the size 100 nanometers or smaller, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from novel extensions of conventional device physics, to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, to developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale, even to speculation on whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale.
Physicist Richard Feynman, famed for is analysis of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, gave a talk to the American Physical Society at Caltech as long ago as December 29, 1959. In it, he described a process by which the ability to manipulate individual atoms and molecules might be developed, using one set of precise tools to build and operate another proportionally smaller set, and so on down to the needed scale. In the course of this, he noted, scaling issues would arise from the changing magnitude of various physical phenomena: gravity would become less important, surface tension and Van der Waals attraction would become more important, and so on. This basic idea appears plausible, and exponential assembly enhances it with parallelism to produce a useful quantity of end products.
So, the question is: Could nanotechnology be the next "Big Thing" in new technologies? Could it be the driver of another explosion of projects and, if so, how will it affect the discipline of, and safety in, project management? Read on to see Dr. Shane Journeay's concerns.
1. Cristina Buzea, Ivan Pacheco, and Kevin Robbie "Nanomaterials and Nanoparticles: Sources and Toxicity" Biointerphases 2 (1007) MR17-MR71
2. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology accessed 6/4/09