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Nanotechnology: Teaching Ethical and Social Issues in a STS 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

Ethics and Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.965.1 - 25.965.14



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Paper Authors


Ahmed S. Khan DeVry University, DuPage Orcid 16x16

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Ahmed S. Khan is a Senior Professor in the College of Engineering and Information Sciences, DeVry University, Addison, Ill. He received his M.Sc. (applied physics) from University of Karachi, an M.S.E.E. from Michigan Technological University, and an M.B.A. from Keller Graduate School of Management., and his Ph.D. from Colorado State University. His research interests are in the areas of fiber optic communications, faculty development, nanotechnology, application of telecommunications technologies in distance education, and impact of technology on society. He teaches wireless engineering, network engineering, fiber optic communications, technology and society, and project management. He also advises students on their senior design projects. He is author of “The Telecommunications Fact Book, 2E,” “Nanotechnology: Ethical and Social Implication,” and co-author of “Technology and Society: Crossroads to the 21st Century,” “Technology and Society: A Bridge to the 21st Century,” and “Technology and Society: Issues for the 21st Century and Beyond.” He is a member of ASEE and a Senior Member of IEEE.

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Aram Agajanian DeVry University, Chicago

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Aram Agajanian is a Senior Professor at DeVry University in Chicago. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester, a M.S. in electrical engineering from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Colorado State University. He has been teaching electronics/computer engineering technology, network communications, and biomedical engineering technology courses at DeVry University for 17 years. He also has 10 years of industrial experience in electrical engineering. His research interests include nanotechnology, understanding the issues that affect enrollment and retention of female students in science, math, engineering and technology (SMET), and help increase the female student population in SMET fields. He is also interested in teaching methods such as brain-based teaching, constructivism, team teaching, and active learning that might improve the quality of engineering education.

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Nanotechnology: Teaching Ethical and Social Implications in a STS CourseSociety is at the threshold of a revolution that will transform the ways in which materials andproducts are created. How will this revolution develop? The opportunities that will develop inthe future will depend significantly upon the ways in which a number of challenges are met. Aswe design systems on a nanoscale, we develop the capability to redesign the structure of allmaterials -- natural and synthetic along with rethinking the new possibilities of the reconstructionof any and all materials. Such a change in our design power represents tremendous social andethical questions. In order to enable our future leadership to make decisions for sustainableethical, economic nanotechnological development, it is imperative that we educate allnanotechnology stakeholders about the short-term and long-term benefits, limitations and risks ofnanotechnology. The social implications of nanotechnology encompass so many fundamentalareas such as ethics, privacy, environment, and security.This paper describes the teaching methodologies used to teach the ethical and social implicationsof nanotechnology in a “Technology, Society, and Society (STS)” capstone course. There areessentially four objectives to this course: (1) developing a strong understanding of local andglobal forces and issues which affect people and societies, (2) guiding local/global societies toappropriate use of technology, (3) alerting societies to technological risks and failures, and (4)developing informed and encompassing personal decision-making and leadership and providingways to solve problems in a technological world. It is anticipated that that by teaching about theethical and social implications of nanotechnology, educators can further promote in studentseverywhere, the future reality and urgency of technological social leadership to appropriately andresponsibly help to develop our global community.

Khan, A. S., & Agajanian, A. (2012, June), Nanotechnology: Teaching Ethical and Social Issues in a STS course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21722

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