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Three-Pronged Approach to Enhancing Undergraduate Nanoscience and Nanoengineering Education

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Abstract:

We report on a three-pronged approach toward enhancing undergraduate nanoscience and engineering education, with an emphasis on fabrication and characterization of nanomaterials. We have used the practical approach of direct engagement of the students in ongoing research in our advanced materials laboratories. Our first activity for enhancing nanoscience and nanoengineering education was to introduce simple concepts of nanoscience and technology into existing required undergraduate engineering courses. These modules covered the core concepts of nanomaterials and unique phenomena at the nanoscale. An interdisciplinary 3-credit nanotechnology course (Nanotechnology I) with a significant hands-on laboratory component was developed as a technical elective course for senior undergraduates. This course has attracted enrollments of 20–30, primarily from our graduating class size of approximately 50 mechanical engineers per year. The course offers a fundamental perspective related to the structure, stability and functional characteristics of nanoscale materials and systems, and also trains students in the application of available theoretical models to the interpretation of results. Under our third initiative, a limited number of undergraduates well-imbued with this foundational perspective were recruited and financially supported to engage in a semester-long research project related to nanotechnology. The course (Nanotechnology-II) was classified as "Independent Study" course under the department's existing curriculum. Students were assigned to work for the entire semester with individual faculty members associated with the NSF Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education (NUE) project led by the first author as well as an NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) on campus. These efforts have enabled and empowered the students with the knowledge of the fundamentals of nanoscience and engineering and proficiency to conduct independent research in a rapidly-growing area.

Keywords: CONTENT-SPECIFIC; HANDS-ON LABORATORY COMPONENT; NANOSCIENCE AND NANOENGINEERING EDUCATION; PRE-/POST-SURVEYS; SEMESTER-LONG RESEARCH PROJECT; TECHNICAL ELECTIVE COURSE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1166/jne.2013.1037

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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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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