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Science Fiction Literature Crossed with Nanotechnology: How Experiential Learning Enhances Engineering Education?

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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

Infusing Engineering with Art (and Vice Versa)

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Anne-Marie Nickel Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Anne-Marie Nickel is a Professor of Chemistry at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). In 2002, she earned her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her B.A. in Chemistry at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1997. Dr. Nickel is a member of the ASEE and the American Chemical Society (ACS).

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Jennifer Kelso Farrell Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Jennifer Kelso Farrell is an Associate Professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She has a PhD in English Literature (Science Fiction) from Louisiana State University (2007), an MA in English from Montana State University, and a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. At LSU, Jennifer was part of the Communication Across the Curriculum (CxC) and worked in the Engineering Communication Studio. Jennifer has published articles in The Leading Edge, Carbon, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Foundation.

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Alicia Domack Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Educational pedagogy suggests that experiential learning should deepen and improve student-learning. Similarly interdisciplinary learning provides students the opportunity to connect course content to other aspects of their learning experiences which should result in greater learning. This paper describes the development and evolution of an interdisciplinary, experiential-learning activity that was used in two separate courses. The assignment exists in two different elective courses, Science Fiction and Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, offered to primarily engineering students (as well as some business and nursing students). Each course includes the topic, societal impacts of technology. In the nanotechnology course, societal impacts of nanotechnology are woven through the course. In the science fiction course multiple pieces of literature are used to explore the question “What is the author asking about the relationship between society and technology?” It is this topic that is critical for our students to consider as their careers and personal lives will be impacted by new technological advances. By involving students in both classes to engage in discussions surrounding these areas of overlap, student learning should be enhanced. Specifically, an activity that involved interaction with students in the other course would enhance students’ mastery, depth of understanding, and interest. The common student project involved students in both electives where the each class developed presentations for the other class. They developed short, interactive presentations with table-top demonstrations that they could use to teach students from the other class. Our evaluation of the activity-based learning approach will be included in the paper.

Nickel, A., & Farrell, J. K., & Domack, A. (2016, June), Science Fiction Literature Crossed with Nanotechnology: How Experiential Learning Enhances Engineering Education? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26143

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