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An Undergraduate Hands-on Approach to Microfabrication Applied Learning Towards Developing a Silicon-based Microfluidic Pressure Sensor Array

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: Team/Project-based Pedagogy and Approaches

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Mechanical Engineering

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Alexander Bryan Bailey Alfred State College

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I currently am a senior undergraduate student studying Mechanical Engineering Technology at SUNY Alfred State. I was a self-taught, homeschooled student before entering college, and I have now been engaged as an intern for a local manufacturing automation company for the past two years (2018-2019). When not directly pursuing academic interests, my hands turn to building drones and experimental model aircraft.

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Trevor S. Michelson State University of New York, Alfred State


Reza Rashidi State University of New York, Alfred State Orcid 16x16

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Reza Rashidi is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering Technology and a faculty affiliate in Micro/Nano Fabrication Laboratory at State University of New York, Alfred State College. He received his Ph.D degree in Mechanical Engineering (MEMS development) from the University of British Columbia in 2010 and completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship in Development of Biomedical Sensing Devices in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 2011. He also received a minor degree in Engineering Management and Entrepreneurship from the University of British Columbia in 2009. He has over 18 years of industrial experience. Before joining Alfred State, Dr. Rashidi was a Senior Engineer at Siemens, where he worked on research projects from 2011 to 2016. His expertise is in the development of micro/nano sensors and actuators in Biomedical Engineering and Energy applications. Dr. Rashidi was a recipient of several awards including the 2008 British Columbia Innovation award, administered by BC province, Canada. He has written over 30 research articles and is currently a reviewer of several journals and conferences worldwide.

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This paper presents an accelerated applied learning approach for fabrication of a MEMS (MicroElectroMechanical Systems) 5x5 pressure sensor array by an undergraduate student. A potential application of this device would be in microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices where pressure sensing is required at various locations of the microfluidic channels. The microfabrication processes required for producing such devices usually require essential knowledge in different areas of mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering, and these skills may not be possible to be achieved with traditional learning cycles. In addition, these emerging processes are usually taught to graduate students who have already mastered the fundamentals of engineering. In this research, the instructor of the course designed an accelerated approach to get the undergraduate student up to speed in this field in a short amount of time. The idea behind this research was to find the most efficient way of microfabrication learning within an academic semester rather than developing a device. The mechanical engineering undergraduate student received help from two resources. First, the instructor of the course, who helped the student in the device ideation, design, fabrication process flow, and other areas where needed. Second, the lab assistant, a senior student with hands-on microfabrication course experience who provided the undergraduate student with help in fabricating the device in the clean room. The undergraduate student compiled his experiences as a portion of discussion for the applied learning results. The effectiveness of the proposed teaching method was assessed by various resources, including undergraduate student assessment, lab assistant assessment considered as a peer review, and instructor self-evaluation. In addition, the results of the microfabrication was separately assessed and considered as the major assessment of teaching effectiveness. The device was evaluated for its reliability using an optical microscope and showed that the major design configurations were successfully fabricated. This hands-on approach was found to be an efficient accelerated learning cycle when an undergraduate student is required to gain knowledge in certain nontraditional areas.

Bailey, A. B., & Michelson, T. S., & Rashidi, R. (2020, June), An Undergraduate Hands-on Approach to Microfabrication Applied Learning Towards Developing a Silicon-based Microfluidic Pressure Sensor Array Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34143

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