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NSF-NUE: Using Nanotechnology to Engage Students from High School through Graduate School

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.942.1 - 24.942.5

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Paper Authors


Raquel Perez Castillejos New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Dr. Raquel Perez-Castillejos is an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Her research ( focuses on the development of tools for cell and tissue biology using micro- and nanotechnologies. Raquel obtained her Ph.D. with the National Center of Microelectronics in Barcelona. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Miniaturized Systems (Univ. São Paulo, Brasil) and later at Harvard University with the Whitesides group. Dr. Perez-Castillejos is the advisor and lead developer of the new nanotechnology minor at NJIT; co-director of the NSF-funded REU summer program for Neuroengineering; and faculty advisor for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at NJIT.

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NSF-NUE: Using Nanotechnology to Engage Students from High School through Graduate SchoolNanotechnology is expected to create millions of new jobs and generate ~ $1 trillion inproduct revenues worldwide by 2015. Research and development in nanotechnology islikely to change completely the design, analysis, and manufacturing for a wide range ofengineering products. Nanotechnology, however, is still mostly a topic for graduateschools whereas undergraduate programs that focus on nanotechnology remain sporadic.Our NSF-NUE award will build a multidisciplinary, cross-campus educational programthat integrates nanotechnology to the undergraduate curricula in science andengineering. Our educational program in nanotechnology will also reach out to highschool (K9-K12) and graduate students.Specifically, the award (received just a couple of weeks ago) aims at achieving thefollowing goals—summarized in Figure 1: (i) To develop a new 15-week course(NANO488) course that will introduce UG students to basic concepts of nano-technologythrough a series of lectures and hands-on sessions; students will be able to take thiscourse as an independent elective or as part of the minor in nanotechnology recentlyapproved at our Institute. The new course NANO 488 has also been approved as atechnical elective for all engineering and science majors. (ii) To developa nanotechnology-oriented summer research program for undergraduate students atNJIT, which will offer 5 students per year the chance to take further their interest fornanotechnology. The strength of nanotechnology research at our Institute createsmultiple openings for undergraduate students to explore this field beyond theircoursework and will also make it possible to maintain this program after the NUE fundingexpires. Students will receive additional career-developing activities and networkingopportunities through the cross-campus summer research programs—e.g., poster andabstract preparation workshops, and end-of-the-summer poster showcase—as well as thepossibility to present their results in a regional or national conference, if their abstractgets accepted. These research experiences will complement the students’ learning duringthe courses and the public display of their results will magnify the visibility of thenanotechnology curriculum inside and outside the Institute. (iii) To develop a programthat will train graduate researchers in educational strategies for effectively teaching andmentoring in nanotechnology. Ten graduate researchers will design, prototype, and testthe 10 hands-on lab sessions of the course introductory to nanotechnology. The graduateresearchers will develop the lab sessions in collaboration with the PI, and co-PIs or seniorpersonnel. The lab sessions will serve as practice for the graduate students to exercise theimplementation of good teaching practices. Typically, graduate students (even thosewith teaching assistantships) lack the experience of designing educational activities, asthese are usually designed by a senior instructors/faculty whereas teaching assistants areonly responsible for the implementation. This training will provide graduate students theeducational training that they will need as they progress in their careers, especially if theyplan to secure an academic job. And (iv) to develop a multi-platform nanotechnologyeducational app—i.e., an app that will be able to run on tablets, computers, and smartphones—that will familiarize K9-K12 students with the nano-scale dimensions. ThisnanoApp will address the difficulty that most students have to visualize the size ofnanometric items, since these are much smaller than the ones students see every day.The four goals of this award aim at taking nanotechnology from the research labs at NJITinto multiple educational settings: from high schools (K9 - K12) to undergraduate andgraduate schools. Implementation of the goals of this award will bring together resourcesand supports from all levels of NJIT as well as from local industry in order to providestudents with a holistic access to the field of nanotechnology. This program is designedto have the greatest impact in both ethnic and gender minorities because our Institute isa core of diversity—within the heart of a city with mostly African and Latin Americanpopulation. With an undergraduate student population in our Institute of 33%underrepresented minorities—African-American and Hispanic—and 25% women),the educational program included in this NSF-NUE award will have a remarkable impactin introducing minorities to nanotechnology.Figure 1. Goals of this proposal as they relate to the student groups involved with them.Color code: red (goal i) blue (goal ii) yellow (goal iii) and green (goal iv)

Perez Castillejos, R. (2014, June), NSF-NUE: Using Nanotechnology to Engage Students from High School through Graduate School Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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