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Development and Growth of an Undergraduate Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering: Curricula and Courses

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.442.1 - 25.442.15



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Paper Authors


Benita M. Comeau Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Benita Comeau is a Technical Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she teaches a laboratory course on nano/micro engineering. She is a Chemical Engineer and received her B.S.E. from the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She was an NSF Research Fellow and a member of the Georgia Tech Student and Teacher Enhancement Partnership (STEP) GK-12 program. Before graduate school, she worked as a Product Engineer for Procter & Gamble and Agere Systems. Her interests include fabrication and materials at small scales, product design and development, and exploring ways to enhance how students experience and learn engineering and science.

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Rohit Karnik Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Rohit Karnik is d’Arbeloff Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he leads the Microfluidics and Nanofluidics Research Group. He obtained his B.Tech. degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in 2002, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 under the guidance of Prof. Arun Majumdar. After postdoctoral work with Prof. Robert Langer at MIT, he joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 2007 as Assistant Professor. His research focuses on the physics of micro- and nanofluidic flows and design of micro- and nanofluidic devices for applications in healthcare, energy systems, and biochemical separation and analysis. Among other honors, he is a recipient of the NSF Career Award (2010), Institute Silver Medal (IIT Bombay, 2002), and Keenan Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education (2011).

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Sang-Gook Kim Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Sang-Gook Kim received his B.S. degree from Seoul National University, Korea, M.S. from KAIST, and Ph.D. from MIT. He held positions at Axiomatics Co. and Korea Institute of Science and Technology from 1986-1991. He joined Daewoo Corporation, Korea, in 1991, as a General Manager and then directed the Central Research Institute of Daewoo Electronics Co. as a Corporate Executive Drector before he joined MIT in 2000. His research and teaching at MIT has addressed the issues in bridging the gap between scientific findings and engineering innovations, developing novel manufacturing processes for newly-developed materials, and designing and realizing new products at micro- and nano-scales.

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Development and Growth of an Undergraduate Micro/Nano EngineeringLaboratory CourseManufacturing and innovating at the micro/nano scale is a major trend intechnology development. Whether in the traditional submicron manufacturingsystems associated with electronic devices or in emerging areas such asbiotechnology and energy harvesting, micro/nano systems are becomingincreasingly important and prevalent. This paper describes how submicronengineering was brought to mechanical engineering undergraduates throughMIT’s Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory (2.674). This class is a hands-onlaboratory designed to inspire interest and excitement about engineering at thesmall scale. We present the course design and implementation, discuss thechallenges inherent in starting a new lab course, and review the studentoutcomes as tracked via post-course surveys.The 2.674 laboratory was first offered in the spring of 2008 to 6 students andexpanded significantly to become a mechanical engineering core course in 2010,with over 50 students participating. The course offers an overview of micro/nanotechnology in three main topic areas: MEMS, microfluidics, and nanomaterials. Itis an intensive laboratory course where students experience building,observation, and design of micro and nano scale structures while usingadvanced imaging equipment such as scanning electron microscope (SEM),transmission electron microscope (TEM), scanning tunneling microscope (STM),and atomic force microscope (AFM).Each week, the students attend one lecture (1 hour) and one lab session (3hours). There are six lab modules covering photolithography and micromolding,microfluidic fluid forces, surface patterning, carbon nanotubes, SEM and TEM,AFM imaging and cantilever characterization. Students work in small groups andprepare lab reports for each module, as well as maintain a lab notebook. Themain educational outcomes are to develop an understanding and familiarity withmicro/nano system behavior and the capabilities of characterization tools at thissize scale, while appreciating the connectivity of micro/nano scale systems to thebroader mechanical engineering field.The student response to the micro/nano lab has been highly positive. Couplingthe positive word-of-mouth with increases in the number of mechanicalengineering undergraduates has led to a rapid growth in enrollment for thiscourse. Thus, our future plans involve continued streamlining to make a moreefficient laboratory experience, and developing more transparent teachingmaterials so that the course may be easily transferrable to additional engineeringinstructors.

Comeau, B. M., & Karnik, R., & Kim, S. (2012, June), Development and Growth of an Undergraduate Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21200

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