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Planting Seeds: Including Nanotechnology Education into Engineering Curricula

  • John A. Jaszczak (a1) and Bruce E. Seely (a2)

As part of a Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education program funded by NSF, a team of faculty at Michigan Technological University has developed a suite of educational and research experiences intended to introduce undergraduate students to the exciting prospects and challenges of nanoscale science and engineering. Although open to all students, the program was designed in particular for engineering students whose curricula have relatively little flexibility. Engineering students at Michigan Tech follow a common first-year curriculum, and as is true at most engineering colleges, their courses of study are highly structured. In order to bring introductory nanotechnology content to both engineering and non-engineering majors, activities were developed to fit into or to modestly supplement existing curricular frameworks. The program seeks to introduce students to three foundational aspects of work at the nanoscale: the underlying scientific principles, possible scientific and engineering applications, and the societal implications of implementation of nanotechnology. A web site ( was developed as a central focal point for nano-related research activities at Michigan Tech. This paper presents additional background and discusses the challenges related to the project, a brief overview of the educational activities, a more in-depth description of those activities deemed to be the most successful, and a description of some lessons learned.

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1.Jaszczak J. A. and Seely B. E., “Developing nano education at a technological university: Science, technology and societal implications of nanotechnology” in Nanoscale Science and Engineering Education: Issues, Trends and Future Directions, edited by Sweeney A. E. and Seal S., American Scientific Publishers (in press).
3.Parker J., “Precautionary Principle,” in The Concise Encyclopedia of the Ethics of New Technologies, edited by Chadwick Ruth F., San Diego, Calif., Academic Press (2001); R. E. Löfstedt, Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 28(3), 237 (2004).
4.Ratner M. and Ratner D., Nanotechnology: An Introduction to the Next Big Idea, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River New Jersey (2003).
5.Baum R., Chem. Eng. News 81(48), 37 (2003).
6.Committee for the Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council. Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. National Academy Press, Washington, D. C., pp. 1719 (2002).
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  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 1946-4274
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