NSF Boosts Nanotech Curriculum
Associate Professor Hugh Bruck, Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Lab Coordinator Robert Bonenberger, MSE Professor and Chair Robert M. Briber, Jaime Cardena-Garcia, and MSE Associate Professor Luz Martinez-Miranda recently completed work on an National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project titled "Development of Educational Materials and Acquisition of Equipment for a Nanoscale to Microscale Engineering Laboratory."
The project, supported by the NSF’s Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program, was used to develop new laboratory experiments that effectively engage undergraduate engineering students in the scientific processes and exploration of concepts in nanotechnology. Work funded under the proposal also helped integrate significant advances in nanotechnology research with the undergraduate engineering laboratory curriculum through the development of a new teaching lab.
Two significant experimental systems were assembled to give students an enhanced laboratory experience. The first is a pair of micro-tensile testers used for determining the mechanical properties of micron-scale devices and materials. The second is an integrated nanoindentation / scanning probe microscope (SPM) testing system, used for measuring the hardness and elasticity of materials at the nanoscale, and for imaging samples.
The equipment forms the core of the new Modern Engineering Materials Instructional Laboratory (MEMIL). Located in the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, the 2241 square-foot facility serves as a shared undergraduate lab for materials testing and characterization and is used to accommodate the needs of multiple departments within the Clark School. The award was for $150,000, matched by the A. James Clark School of Engineering.
Bruck's junior-level ENME 382: Engineering Materials and Manufacturing Processes class was one of those that benefited from the new equipment and curriculum.
Bio-Inspired Engineering Curriculum Featured in IOP Journal
"Training Mechanical Engineering Students to Utilize Biological Inspiration During Product Development," a paper co-authored by Associate Professor Hugh Bruck, Associate Professor Satyandra K. Gupta, Professor Emeritus Edward Magrab, Alan L. Gershon, Ira Golden, Lawrence S. Gyger, Jr. and Brent W. Spranklin was posted in the Institute of Physics Publishing journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics in October.
The paper describes educational tools currently included in several undergraduate courses at Maryland, including ENME 489L: Product Development Using Bio-Inspired Concepts, facilitated by a process the authors developed called Concurrent Fabrication and Assembly that allow students to design and manufacture bio-inspired robots. Educational modules highlighted in the paper are used in a number of courses available to undergraduate students. The research was funded by an award from the NSF for the amount of $401,000.
The paper was featured in the December 2007 print version of Bioinspiration & Biomimetics and currently appears free in the online edition at www.iop.org (pdf, 12 pages, 1.56M).
January 16, 2008