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NUE: The Freshman Experience and Nanotechnology Solutions to Engineering Grand Challenges

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Edward W. Davis Auburn University Orcid 16x16

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Edward W. Davis received his PhD from the University of Akron in 1996. He worked in the commercial plastics industry for 11 years, including positions with Shell Chemicals in Louvain-la-Nueve Belgium and EVALCA in Houston TX. He joined the faculty at Auburn University in the fall of 2007. In 2014 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer. He has regularly taught courses in three different engineering departments. In 2015 he began his current position as an Assistant Professor in the Materials Engineering Program.

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Joni M Lakin Auburn University Orcid 16x16

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Joni M. Lakin, Ph.D. from The University of Iowa, is Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology at Auburn University. Her research interests include educational assessment, educational evaluation methods, and increasing diversity in STEM fields.

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P.K. Raju Auburn University

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Dr. P. K. Raju is the Thomas Walter Distinguished professor of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University. He is the co-founder and director of the NSF-funded Laboratory for Innovative Technology and Engineering Education (LITEE). LITEE has been recently recognized by the National Academy of Engineering as one of the model programs in the country that has successfully infused real world experiences into engineering undergraduate education. He is also the founder and director of the Auburn Engineering Technical Assistance Program (AETAP). Prior to coming to Auburn in 1984, Dr. Raju held faculty positions in several universities in India and visiting positions at the Catholic University of America, Purdue University, and the Technical University of Berlin. Dr. Raju received his Ph.D. from the Indian institute of Technology, Madras, in 1977. He has made significant research contributions in engineering education and innovations, acoustics, noise control, nondestructive evaluation and technology transfer, resulting in award-winning and significant breakthroughs. He has received a total of $12 million in funding, including grants from industries, the United Nations, the National Science Foundation, NIST, NIH, EDA and other U.S. and international agencies. He has published 24 books, eight book chapters and 200 papers in journals and conference proceedings. He has received several awards for his teaching, research and outreach work from INEER, NASA, NSF, ASME, ASEE, Auburn University and others. He served as an United Nations and UNDP expert and as a World Bank lecturer. He has held Invited Professorships at the Université Bordeaux I, Talence, and Université Du Havre, Le Harve, France. He has been an invited/ keynote speaker at several national and international conferences. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education, a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India), and a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of India. He is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research

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Virginia A. Davis Auburn University Orcid 16x16

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Dr.Virginia A. Davis’ research is primarily focused on using fluid phase processing to assemble cylindrical nanomaterials into larger functional materials. Targeted applications include optical coatings, 3D printed structures, light-weight composites, and antimicrobial surfaces. Her national awards include selection for the Fulbright Specialist Roster (2015), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum’s Young Investigator Award (2012), the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2010), and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2009). Her Auburn University awards include the Excellence in Faculty Outreach (2015), an Auburn University Alumni Professorship (2014), the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council Awards for Senior (2013) and Junior (2009) Faculty Research, the Faculty Women of Distinction Award (2012), and the Mark A. Spencer Creative Mentorship Award (2011). Dr. Davis is the past chair of Auburn’s Women in Science and Engineering Steering Committee (WISE) and the faculty liaison to the College of Engineering’s 100 Women Strong Alumnae organization which is focused on recruiting, retaining and rewarding women in engineering. She was also the founding advisor for Auburn’s SHPE chapter.
Dr. Davis earned her Ph.D. from Rice University in 2006 under the guidance of Professor Matteo Pasquali and the late Nobel Laureate Richard E. Smalley. Prior to attending Rice, Dr. Davis worked for eleven years in Shell Chemicals’ polymer businesses in the US and Europe. Her industrial assignments included manufacturing, technical service, research, and global marketing management; all of these assignments were focused on enabling new polymer formulations to become useful consumer products.

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The objective of this grant is to develop six education modules that utilize Engineering Grand Challenges as a framework for teaching nanotechnology to freshmen engineering students. The goals of these modules are to 1) increase nanotechnology awareness and understanding as part of achieving ABET student outcomes 2) to familiarize students with the current grand challenges in engineering and potential nanotechnology enabled solutions, and 3) to increase student understanding of the importance of grand challenges and nanotechnology to the engineering profession. The modules will be designed to be adaptable to a range of formats and lengths. The full version of each module will include a combination of multimedia presentations, case studies, engineering calculations, and hands on activities. Within the College of Engineering, the modules will be disseminated through the freshman Introduction to Engineering courses offered by each department and outreach activities. Additional dissemination will occur through NanoHub, the National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library (NSDL), YouTube, conference presentations and peer reviewed publications. Knowledge and attitude surveys (at baseline and during semesters with modules) were conducted to measure students’ attitudes toward engineering (including nanotechnology and Grand Challenges) as well as their knowledge changes about nanotechnology. The five Grand Challenges of most interest to students were Make Solar Energy More Economical, Reverse Engineer the Brain, Provide Access to Clean Water, Advance the Tools of Scientific Discovery, and Provide Energy From Fusion. Topics that were significantly more interesting for female students and that had the largest effect sizes were advancing health informatics, engineering better medicines, and advancing personalized learning. Topics that appealed more to male students included exploring space, providing energy from fusion, and securing cyberspace. URM racial/ethnic groups had significantly stronger interest in nanotechnology and enhancing virtual reality than non URM students. The first module, “Make Solar Energy More Economical,” was implemented in coed (n=31) and all female (n=29) middle and high school engineering camps in summer 2015. Students in the camps made statistically and practically significant gains in nano knowledge from the module and enjoyed the activities. In fall 2015, the solar module was expanded for implementation in the chemical engineering sections of the freshman Introduction to Engineering course. A module on “Reverse Engineering the Brain,” was also implemented. The results of the evaluation of these modules will be used to refine the modules for implementation in additional engineering disciplines, and internet dissemination. Additional modules will be developed with the goal of institutionalizing modules for at least six Grand Challenges throughout the College of Engineering and beyond.

Davis, E. W., & Lakin, J. M., & Raju, P., & Davis, V. A. (2016, June), NUE: The Freshman Experience and Nanotechnology Solutions to Engineering Grand Challenges Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25812

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