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RET in Functional Materials

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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 II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Scott W Campbell University of South Florida

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Dr. Scott Campbell has been on the faculty of the Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at the University of South Florida since 1986. He currently serves as the department undergraduate advisor. Scott was a co-PI on an NSF STEP grant for the reform of the Engineering Calculus sequence at USF. This grant required him to build relationships with engineering faculty of other departments and also faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the course of this grant, he advised over 500 individual calculus students on their course projects. He was given an Outstanding Advising Award by USF and has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards at the department, college, university (Jerome Krivanek Distinguished Teaching Award) and state (TIP award) levels. Scott is also a member of the executive committee of a Helios-funded Middle School Residency Program for Science and Math (for which he taught the capstone course in spring 2014) and is on the planning committee for a new NSF IUSE grant to transform STEM Education at USF. His research is in the areas of solution thermodynamics and environmental monitoring and modeling.

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Sylvia W. Thomas University of South Florida

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Dr. Sylvia Wilson Thomas is currently an Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering and former Assistant Dean for the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. She holds several patents and has over twenty-five years of experience in industry and academia.

Research Interests

Sylvia Wilson Thomas, Ph.D. leads the Advanced Materials Bio and Integration Research (AMBIR) laboratory at USF. Dr. Thomas' research and teaching endeavors are focused on advanced materials for alternative energy sources, sustainable environments, aerospace, and bio-applications from the micro to the nano scale. Her research investigates the fabrication of inorganic and organic thin films and nanofibers for device integration. Thomas’ research group specializes in characterizing, modeling, and integrating materials that demonstrate high levels of biocompatibility, thermal reflectivity, mechanical robustness, and environmental sustainability, such as carbides, sol-gel coatings, high temperature oxides, and several polymers. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature and fosters collaborations with Chemical and Biomedical, Mechanical, and Environmental Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Public Health, Medicine, and the Nanotechnology Research and Education Center (NREC).

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Venkat R. Bhethanabotla University of South Florida

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Venkat Bhethanabotla obtained his BS from Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, and Ph.D. from Penn State in Pennsylvania, USA, both in Chemical Engineering. He is professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at University of South Florida. He serves as an associate editor for the IEEE Sensors Journal, and serves as a member of the Administrative Committee of the IEEE Sensors Council and in the Administrative Committee of the IEEE-UFFFC. Venkat is an elected Fellow of the AIChE.

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The structure, operation and outcomes from the first two years of a focused Research Experience for Teachers (RET) site in the interdisciplinary STEM area of functional materials and their manufacturing are reported. Eleven research groups from the Functional Materials and Manufacturing Institute (FMMI) and sixteen STEM educators at various levels, including in-service high school teachers, community college faculty members, and pre-service teachers, have participated in this research experience over the first two years. The location of this RET site in the highly-equipped and instrumented FMMI, along with its focus on a single interdisciplinary research area, allowed participants to make substantial progress in functional materials research and curriculum development. Implementation of the site resulted in (a) facilitation of teachers’ research progress and lesson plan development via interrelated activities including an eight-week, common course on the fundamentals of materials science and engineering, weekly research meetings leading to brainstorming of ideas, feedback and support, and weekly lesson plan seminars and (b) a diverse and sustainable set of educational activities for translation to the home institutions of the teachers.

A major goal of any RET program is to create partnerships between the university site and participating schools that allow for translation of research experiences and new knowledge gained into classroom activities. We learnt that incorporation of lesson plans developed by the teachers into their existing courses is difficult--- there is little time to bring in new material because of demands to cover standards-based content that students need for their standardized tests. We also learnt that it is difficult because the underlying assumption, that the particular research experience each teacher engages in will fit the curriculum flow of the courses they teach in their home institution, is artificial. Rather, creative activities which are unique to their particular situation, but resulting from the research experience, were found to be the most suitable, sustainable and translatable outcomes of this RET program. By fostering an environment to conceive such outcomes, a diverse and useful set of activities resulted for translation to the home institutions of the teachers.

In this presentation, we summarize assessment results obtained from surveys of participants, report pre- and post-test scores for the Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering course, and provide a summary of translational activities resulting from participation in this site, including information on the number and diversity of students impacted from these activities.

Campbell, S. W., & Thomas, S. W., & Bhethanabotla, V. R. (2016, June), RET in Functional Materials Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26095

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