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Work in Progress: Impact of First-Year Micro-/Nano-Technology Research Project Course on Future Research and Graduate/Professional School Involvement

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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

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1389.1 - 24.1389.10



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Paper Authors


Martin T. Spang Ohio State University

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Martin T. Spang will be pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering this Fall. He recently received his BS in Biomedical Engineering with Honors Research Distinction and a minor in Entrepreneurship from The Ohio State University. He has three years of teaching experience from Ohio State’s Fundamentals of Engineering for Honors program and has assisted in the design of a creativity and innovation seminar and the semester conversion of a first-year nanotechnology and microfluidics project course. He is highly involved with Biomedical Engineering Society, growing Ohio State’s student chapter to over 150 members and establishing a nationally recognized mentoring program. His research interests include ocular biomechanics, nanotechnology, tissue engineering, technology commercialization, and engineering education and leadership.

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Aaron Strickland Ohio State University

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Aaron Strickland is a fourth-year chemical engineering undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. He has worked with the first-year engineering program for honors students for the three years since completing the program as a first-year student. He has completed internship experiences in both R&D and manufacturing roles, and continues as a curriculum development lead for the micro/nanotechnology project option for students in their second semester. He will be going into industry after the completion of his undergraduate program.

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Deborah M. Grzybowski Ohio State University

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Dr. Grzybowski is a Professor of Practice in the Engineering Education Innovation Center and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and her B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Prior to becoming focused on engineering education, her research interests included regulation of intracranial pressure and transport across the blood-brain barrier in addition to various ocular-cellular responses to fluid forces and the resulting implications in ocular pathologies.

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Works in Progress: Impact of First-Year Micro-/Nano- Technology Research Project Course on Future Research and Graduate/Professional School InvolvementThe first-year engineering program provides honors students with the option to undertake aresearch and development design project with a focus on lab-on-a-chip (LOC) andnanotechnology applications. This project is an alternative to a robot design-build course whichhas a focus on mechanical engineering and computer programming. This paper will ask theevidence-based practice question: “Does a research and development design project courseinfluence a student’s decision to become involved in future research projects and pursue highereducation in the form of graduate and professional school?” We hypothesize that a significantlygreater percentage of the research project course alumni will be involved in various researchroles and activities and pursue higher education as compared to the alumni from the robot designcourse. To measure future research involvement, alumni who have completed the first-yearengineering honors program within the past four years are being surveyed to quantify theirinvolvement in various research roles and activities, including undergraduate research,presentations at technical forums and conferences, research and development internships, as wellas planned participation in graduate or professional school. As LOCs and nanotechnology havemany applications in medicine, many students that enroll in this course are biomedicalengineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering majors.This class prepares students for research by developing necessary skills in several key areas.Highlights of the course include a technical literature review, computational fluid dynamics,development of experimental protocol, and development and testing of a thesis experimentally.Students are exposed to the full methodology of research design, including the development,manufacturing, and testing of an LOC device. The course culminates with a judged poster forumand technical slideshow presentation of the students’ research and results. In contrast, thestudents who take the robot design-build course are instructed in various aspects of mechanicaldesign, which includes drive trains, motor performance, statics, and strength of materials. Theobjective is to create an autonomous robot which students program to complete specific tasks ona competition course. Both options have recently switched to an inverted classroom pedagogicalmodel in which the content remains the same, but each instructional day is divided into twoparts: preparation and application. The preparation is directed at the lower Bloom’s Taxonomylevels, and the application targets the upper Bloom’s Taxonomy levels.This rigorous research and development project course provides students with an understandingof the research process and develops the necessary skill sets and enthusiasm that encouragesinvolvement in research as an undergraduate and beyond. This may be in part explained by thestudents’ initial interest in research as demonstrated by enrolling in a research project course(which will be controlled for), as well as by the skill sets developed while taking the researchproject course. This study is currently in progress but will be completed at the end of the autumn2013 academic term. The survey is being sent out to approximately 1800 alumni of the first-yearengineering honors program.

Spang, M. T., & Strickland, A., & Grzybowski, D. M. (2014, June), Work in Progress: Impact of First-Year Micro-/Nano-Technology Research Project Course on Future Research and Graduate/Professional School Involvement Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23322

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