Cross-disciplinary Nature of Nanotechnology
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This group discusses the cross-disciplinary nature of nanotechnology. The draft version of some papers cited in this group can be found on the resources tab. We welcome and encourage contributions and discussions. (You can contribute substantial resources to nanoHUB.org through the resource contribution process, and then send a message to the group manager so that links to those resources can be added to this group.)
The initial materials of this group page have been developed by the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) Education Research team. The NCN Education Research team is constantly working to increase students’ awareness and understanding of nanotechnology, while contributing to the literature about nanotechnology education.
Summary of Categories:
Impact on nanoHUB users
nanoHUB.org is a collaborative community for a diverse group of researchers, educators, and learners. Nanotechnology requires people from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. To increase access to a variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, we need to investigate this cross-disciplinary environment in research, education, and other learning environments. This group presents an initial conversation about some of the work regarding this and hopes to inspire and promote future research, while enabling a platform for researchers to discuss and disseminate pertinent research.
Cross-disciplinary Nature of Nanotechnology
The term cross-disciplinary is used and fairly commonly accepted as a broad term to describe multi-, inter-, and trans-disciplinary practices (Adams & Forin, 2013). Some studies have been conducted at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) regarding the cross-disciplinary nature of teaming in nanotechnology through qualitative methods, including phenomenology (Chari, Howard, & Bowe, 2012; Chari, Irving, Howard, & Bowe, 2011) and case studies (Battard, 2012). The phenomenology studies investigated the post doctorate nanotechnology researchers’ perspectives through interviews; their intentions were to understand the multidisciplinary teaming environment required for nanotechnology research to establish what types of STEM students are needed for the innovative field to be successful (Chari et al., 2012; Chari et al., 2011). The case study was an analysis conducted within the sciences to understand the incorporation of nanotechnology into introductory science courses through multidisciplinary teaming, learning environments (Battard, 2012). Other than these few studies at Dublin Institute of Technology, this concept has not been investigated much and no nanotechnology-specific studies within undergraduate engineering environments were found.
Below is an image that explains the three types of cross-disciplinary teaming (multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary)
Adams, R.S. & Forin, T. (in press, 2013). “Working together across differences.” In B. Williams (ed), Engineering practice in a global context: Understanding the technical and social to inform educators. The Netherlands: Taylor & Francis Group.
Battard, N. (2012) Convergence and multidisciplinarity in nanotechnology: Laboratories as technological hubs. Technovation, forthcoming.
Chari, D., Howard, R., and Bowe, B. (2012). Disciplinary identity of nanoscience and nanotechnology research- A study of postgraduate researchers’ experiences. International Journal for Digital Society, Vol. 3(1), pp 619-616
Chari, D., Irving, P., Howard, R., & Bowe, B. (2011). Phenomenological study of postgraduate researchers’ experiences of nanosciece and nanotechnology research. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education, Researcher and Innovation (ICERI), Madrid, Spain. November 14-16.
Future Research Needed
Based on this literature review, the holes in the literature that may suggest the greatest potential for further research are to understand the element of leadership in cross-disciplinary teaming and attributes of a cross-disciplinary professional (including pertinent learning objectives). It should be noted that nanotechnology is acknowledged to be an interdisciplinary field that has a minimal amount of research about cross-disciplinary practices in real-world and learning environments. Nanotechnology is a field of research that has a lot of potential for future research on cross-disciplinary practice. The developed questions focus on a big picture viewpoint within research on cross-disciplinary practices, but all of these things could be investigated in nanotechnology settings.
NCN Conducted Research
This quantitative study investigate whether students from all engineering majors could understand how nanotechnology impacts their field of study. First-year engineering students were required to state their intended field of study and identify three ways nanotechnology is impacting their field. Based on an analysis of 537 students’ responses, each student was coded as “yes” related to their identified field or “no” not related. The figure below shows that a large majority of students from almost every field did successfully relate their engineering field of interest to nanotechnology. Mechanical and industrial engineers were noted to struggle with this task; further qualitative investigation should be done to understand why. The findings of this study show that each field of engineering can see how nanotechnology impacts their field. This study shows that nanotechnology clearly presents an opportunity for cross-disciplinary teaming. It also identifies a context for communicating nanotechnology ideas to connect to a larger audience, which can be utilized on nanoHUB to increase the diversity of users (based on field of study).
Rodgers, K. J., Diefes-Dux, H.A., & Madhavan, K. (2013). First-year engineering students explore nanotechnology in engineering. Proceedings of the 40th SEFI Annual Conference. Leuven, Belgium. (paper in resources)