Asee peer logo

First Year Engineering Themed Seminar – A Mechanism For Conveying The Interdisciplinary Nature Of Engineering

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Assessment Issues in 1st-Yr Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.630.1 - 10.630.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session XXXX

First-Year Engineering Themed Seminar: A Mechanism for Conveying the Interdisciplinary Nature of Engineering Heidi A. Diefes-Dux, P.K. Imbrie, and Tamara Moore Purdue University West Lafayette, IN


A themed-seminar structure for first-year engineering students was developed to encourage students to see the interconnections between the engineering disciplines and move away from the notion of highly discrete fields of study. The selected theme was nanotechnology due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of this field and the drive to improve awareness of this field in the first-year. To assess the impact of this seminar structure, an Engineering-Awareness Survey instrument was developed to capture, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the nature of students’ perceptions of the interrelationships between engineering disciplines as well as their awareness of nanotechnology. This paper presents results of the impact of the themed-seminar structure as delivered in the Fall of 2003.


The estimated need for 2 million nanotechnology workers worldwide within the next 10-15 years, with 0.8-0.9 million in the U.S. alone1, presents a special challenge and opportunity to restructure teaching and curricula at all levels to include nanotechnology concepts and nurture the scientific and technical workforce of the 21st century. Educating and training a new generation of skilled scientific workers with the multidisciplinary perspective necessary for rapid advances in nanotechnology is one of the key transforming strategies of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). To ensure that tomorrow’s workforce and leadership is in the pipeline to pursue further education in the area of nanotechnology, a focus on first-year students is critical2.

The interdisciplinary nature of nanoscale science and engineering – its blending of chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, computer science, materials science, geology, engineering, etc. – provides new opportunities for interdisciplinary course and curriculum development, as well as faculty collaboration, both in teaching and in research, that cross traditional disciplinary departmental boundaries3. Nanoscale science and engineering provides a multitude of new interdisciplinary teaching opportunities for engaging the interest of students and for broadening their vision of science, engineering, and technology. Nanoscale science and engineering thus permit the development of new strategies for enhancing science literacy, preparing the workforce for emerging technologies, and attracting a diverse group of talented students to the workforce of tomorrow.

A wide variety of nanotechnology educational programs are in various stages of development and implementation across the United States and in other nations, spanning K-12, associate and baccalaureate degree levels, graduate programs, and informal education programs4.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Diefes-Dux, H., & Imbrie, P., & Moore, T. (2005, June), First Year Engineering Themed Seminar – A Mechanism For Conveying The Interdisciplinary Nature Of Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14837

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015