Nanotechnology as a research field presents many new opportunities and challenges for educating the next generation of engineers. In this paper, we attempt to understand the impact of this research team's initiatives to increase engineering students' awareness and understanding of nanotechnology. This is a case study of how four student teams changed their iteratively-developed design solutions for a nanotechnology-based design project. The goal is to investigate how first-year engineering (FYE) students developed their demonstrated knowledge of nanotechnology. We found that all four teams discussed nanotechnology concepts from the beginning of their solutions. Although they had difficulty relating their nanotechnology applications to science and mathematics concepts, they had consistent ideas for the nanotechnology-specific content they wanted to focus on throughout their project. The results show that all four project cases have a clear potential connection to a field of engineering. Connecting nanotechnology to potential engineering fields may present a better content focus than science and mathematics concepts.
Rodgers, K.J., Diefes-Dux, H.A., & Madhavan, K. (2013). Case studies: First-year engineering nanotechnology-based design projects. Published proceedings of the FIE annual conference, Oklahoma City, OK.
(The draft copy of this paper is attached. There is also a slide attached that summarizes some key ideas of the paper.)