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Nano's Big Bang: Transforming Engineering Education And Outreach

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.955.1 - 10.955.19



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Paper Authors

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Carol Lynn Alpert

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Jacqueline Isaacs

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

Nano's Big Bang: Transforming Engineering Education and Outreach

C. L. Alpert, J. A. Isaacs,* C. M. F. Barry,# G. P. Miller,§ A. A. Busnaina*

Museum of Science, Boston / *Northeastern University / # University of Massachusetts Lowell / §University of New Hampshire


The rapid emergence of nanoscale science and engineering as a focal point for a broad range of government and privately-sponsored basic research activities – intended to catalyze breakthrough technologies and commercially-successful advances in medicine, computing, materials, manufacturing and defense– is having a correspondingly influential impact on the design of engineering education and outreach programs aimed at university, K-12, and public audiences. This paper examines the nature of this influence as well as the opportunities and challenges it presents to education and outreach professionals, in light of current trends in STEM education. The authors are involved in a collaborative effort to devise strategies to tackle some of these challenges through the design and development of the education and outreach aspects of the Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN), an NSF-sponsored Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC). Close collaboration among CHN’s science, engineering and societal implications researchers, university and K-12 educators, and science museum public engagement specialists, is expected to lead to new models for integrating research, education, outreach, and public engagement within the context of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

Introduction: Nanotechnology Now

“The future ain’t what it used to be…” - Yogi Berra

It is becoming increasingly likely that a few decades from now we will be living in a world fundamentally transformed by nanotechnology. At stake for humanity are potential breakthroughs in energy production and storage, medicine and biotechnology, computing, communications, transportation, housing, environmental protection, and defense. Maintaining a leadership position in global technology R&D is also of critical importance to the U.S. economy. A race is on to patent and exploit key techniques and processes that will ensure healthy participation in the coming worldwide nanotech economy, which is estimated to approach $1 trillion within the decade.1

The interdisciplinary nature of this oft-characterized2 “21st century industrial revolution” will likely inspire as well as require new developments in the way science and engineering are taught nationwide. Government and industry leaders are already expressing concern about filling the pipeline with next generation nano researchers, engineers, technicians, and commercial product developers. Efforts to reform and advance engineering education have taken on new urgency

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

Alpert, C. L., & Isaacs, J. (2005, June), Nano's Big Bang: Transforming Engineering Education And Outreach Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14617

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