Session Q7: Undergraduate Nanotechnology and Materials Physics Education II
Peter Collings, Session Chair, Swarthmore College
Emily Allen, San Jose State University
Materials science and engineering programs have the dual requirement of educating both future scientists and future engineers. Graduating B.S. students need to be ready for engineering practice, yet may also be readied for graduate study and research. Design activities occur in many aspects of the profession and may be practiced by both scientists and engineers, however it is engineering curricula, not science curricula, that tend to focus explicitly on design. Accredited programs within colleges of engineering are required to emphasize engineering practice and design, while still providing the necessary conceptual development of the underlying science.
What Quantum Dots Can Do For You
Gregory Salamo. University of Arkansas
The study of nanosize materials is an emerging area of research that requires a background in both chemistry and physics. Quantum dots can be made cheaply, thereby providing a base from which to study both process engineering and the science of these materials. A simple question such as "Can we engineer greater homogeneity of dot shape and size?" provides an opportunity for students to gain the complementary skills associated with design and basic research. By teaming undergraduates from different majors and by working with industry on problems they face, undergraduates leave with a broad and realistic education in nanoscience.
Chris Hughes, James Madison University
As part of a program in materials science that is now a decade old, James Madison University established a Center for Materials Science, which provides seed money for research, support for students, and motivation for departments to participate in the program. Courses exist at both the introductory and intermediate level that are cross-listed between departments, and students are encouraged to participate in materials science research. This program has invigorated on-campus research and forged links between faculty in several departments. In addition, this research across departments provides an opportunity for it to feed back directly into the classroom.
Michael Dubson, University of Colorado
Course reform at the introductory and intermediate level began with the introduction of clicker questions in lecture, peer instruction, and an added emphasis on conceptual understanding and qualitative reasoning. Such conceptual training improves rather than dilutes traditional, computationally intensive, problem-solving skills. This reform is now being extended into upper-division courses. In order to be successful, such a reform must start with a department-wide consensus and agreed-upon measures of success.
Janet Tate, Oregon State University
The Paradigms in Physics program at Oregon State University organizes the upper-level undergraduate physics curriculum in a way that intentionally blurs traditional sub-disciplinary boundaries and makes use of many interactive pedagogical techniques. Condensed matter physics and materials science content appear in many places in the early curriculum, culminating in a capstone course in solid state physics. A mix of analytic, computational, and research approaches are employed.