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A Practical Approach to Integrating Nanotechnology Education and Research into Civil Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum

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Abstract:

Rapid advances and innovations in nanotechnology not only increase our capacity to create and utilize materials and devices with novel functions through the control of matter at the nanometer scale but also provide new teaching opportunities for engineering education communities to engage the interest and broaden the vision of diverse students in science and engineering, to foster critical thinking and innovation, and to enhance science and engineering literacy. The nanotechnology revolution has recently begun to impact construction materials and infrastructure systems, and it can be expected that rapid development in nanotechnology could potentially change the traditional practice of design and construction of civil infrastructures. This change should be reflected in the civil engineering curriculum in a timely and suitable manner in order to better prepare the future workforce for rapid development of nanotechnology in civil engineering. Furthermore, nanotechnology undergraduate education should not only focus on the technology perspective but also should utilize innovations of nanotechnology as a vehicle to inspire critical thinking and creativity and to enhance undergraduate educational outcomes. The objective of this paper is to share instructional strategies for fostering student learning and creativity from nanotechnology innovations and enhancing expected undergraduate engineering outcomes. The paper first describes the impact of nanotechnology on civil engineering and then introduces a practical approach to integrating nanotechnology education and research into a mainstream civil engineering undergraduate curriculum. Outlines are given of four lecture modules, four laboratory modules, two seminars, and one course project, as well as a mechanism for integrating undergraduate research and international experience into a classroom. Preliminary outcomes from implementing these new course modules are provided, and topics for future nanotechnology education in civil engineering are also delineated.

Keywords: CIVIL ENGINEERING; NANO/MICRO-SCALE MODIFIED CONCRETE; NANOTECHNOLOGY UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION; NEW COURSE MODULES; NEW TEACHING LAB MODULES; SENSING TECHNOLOGY; SMART MATERIALS

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1166/jne.2009.008

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Nano Education (JNE) is a peer-reviewed international journal that aims to provide the most complete and reliable source of information on current developments in nanoscale science, technology, engineering, and medical education.
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