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Board # 118 : Integrating Thematic Problem-Based Learning Modules on Nanotechnology in the Civil Engineering Curriculum

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27703

Download Count

51

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Paper Authors

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Nicole Berge University of South Carolina

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Dr. Nicole Berge received her B.S. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of South Carolina in 1999 and 2001, respectively. In 2006, she received her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida. From 2006 to 2008, Dr. Berge worked as a postdoctoral associate at Tufts University. Currently, she is an associate professor at the University of South Carolina.

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Charles E. Pierce University of South Carolina

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Dr. Pierce is the Director for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He is a USC Connect Faculty Fellow for Integrative Learning, and a Bell South Teaching Fellow in the College of Engineering and Computing. Dr. Pierce also serves as the ASEE Campus Representative for USC.

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Robert Petrulis

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Dr. Petrulis is an independent consultant specializing in education-related project evaluation and research. He is based in Columbia, South Carolina.

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Abstract

The rapid growth of nanomaterials within consumer products, construction materials, and other medical or electronic devices necessitates the education of engineering students on the impacts and implications of nanotechnology. For civil and environmental engineering students, in particular, it is important to understand the complex roles of nanomaterials in waste management. Nanomaterials can be incorporated to enhance concrete properties for spent nuclear waste containment, for example. At the same time, it is critical that we develop environmentally sound end-of-life management strategies for nanomaterial-laden items. To that end, students must learn about the unique aspects of fundamental nanomaterial properties, as well as potential issues associated with nanomaterial disposal.

Rather than teach a singular elective course on nanotechnology, it was decided to distribute and integrate the content across multiple courses. Problem-based learning (PBL) was selected as the pedagogical method for introducing nanotechnology concepts. The premise with this approach is that each PBL module is a signature learning experience for students in each course, where PBL was not otherwise used.

This paper describes the implementation of the integrated theme within a civil and environmental engineering curriculum. Implementation of these modules occurred over a three-year period. This paper identifies the problem, context, and active learning exercises for acquiring knowledge about nanotechnology in each module, as well as the core technical concepts that each was associated with for the given course. More than 150 individual students were impacted in at least one course, which represents about half of our undergraduate student population in a given year. A significant fraction of those students were exposed to at least two PBL modules. However, the number of students that were exposed to four or more PBL modules was much less than anticipated, as described in the paper. To that end, this paper also describes the implementation challenges and lessons learned from thematic integration, based on individual interviews conducted with six course instructors.

Berge, N., & Pierce, C. E., & Petrulis, R. (2017, June), Board # 118 : Integrating Thematic Problem-Based Learning Modules on Nanotechnology in the Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27703

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