June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.856.1 - 11.856.13
Lab-on-a-chip Design-Build Project with a Nanotechnology Component in a Freshman Engineering Course
A micromanufacturing lab-on-a-chip project with a nanotechnology component was introduced to first-year engineering students as a voluntary alternative within the standard first-year engineering curriculum. The lab project was piloted during Winter and Spring Quarters of 2004, with one section offered in each quarter for a total of 127 students then expanded to 3 sections in 2005 with an enrollment of 190 students. This alternate project is currently being revised and will be fully integrated into the program by Winter and Spring of 2006. In addition, an honors version of the project was offered in Spring 2005 to a single section of 32 students. A revised honors version will also be offered in Spring 2006. A three-pronged approach was employed in developing the project involving on-campus nanotechnology research laboratory tours hosted by faculty and researchers, nanotechnology teaching modules, and hands-on lab activities. The lab activities included a quarter-length design, build, and test problem utilizing project management and team building skills found in the standard lab sections.
The new course offering represents a significant effort to transfer graduate level research findings to a freshman engineering setting. This exposed students to cutting-edge research topics and fostered an early interest in academic and professional careers in new fields such as nanotechnology and biomedical devices. The project also demonstrates a safe method of incorporating more chemical and biological based engineering disciplines into a freshman laboratory course as an alternative to the traditional electro-mechanical emphasis. In fact, the lab-on-a-chip platform provides a very broad multi-disciplinary project that appeals to many interests and this is reflected in the nanotechnology teaching modules contributed by a diverse group of nanotechnology researchers from around campus.
Nanotechnology is introduced in related readings and laboratory tours as well as a nominal experimental component. Pre- and post-tests on nanotechnology concepts helped to gauge increases in student knowledge and understanding of fundamental nanotechnology topics. Pre- and post-surveys indicated the effects of the course on student interest and participation in research and nanotechnology-related issues at an undergraduate, graduate, or professional level. Efforts to expand the initial pilot implementation into a scaled-up regular course offering within the first-year curriculum parallels the recent award of a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) through which undergraduate research opportunities will be available to students whose interests in nanotechnology and research have been sparked through this course offering. Finally, a longitudinal study is in development to track the involvement of former nanotechnology and micromanufacturing freshmen engineering students in nanotechnology and research as they progress through their academic careers at the university.
Government initiative, market-driven, and research-driven forces have drawn international attention to the emerging field of nanotechnology. This initial growth and the projected growth of nanotechnology have fostered a need to provide educational options to prepare future
Allam, Y., & Tomasko, D., & Merrill, J., & Trott, B., & Schlosser, P., & Clingan, P. (2006, June), Lab On A Chip Design Build Project With A Nanotechnology Component In A Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1315
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