NUE: Development of a Computational Curriculum for Undergraduates in NanoTechnology and NanoEngineering (NanoCompute)
Nanotechnology has significant societal, economical, and scientific potential ﾗ it is a fast-growing interdisciplinary field with broad applications in medicine, energy, aerospace, and national defense. The demand for trained and educated nanotechnology workers is predicted to dramatically rise with nearly 2 million workers needed by 2015. To meet this need, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has recently established a NanoEngineering (NE) Department offering B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in nanoengineering.
Computational methods are becoming increasingly critical in solving nanoengineering problems. To properly equip our students for careers in nanotechnology and to become leaders in evolving nanotechnology industries, we have developed a Computational Curriculum for Undergraduates in NanoTechnology and NanoEngineering (NanoCompute). NanoCompute is intended to complement the multidisciplinary undergraduate education that has already been established by the NE Department through our core curriculum and hands-on engineering laboratories, and further provide students with the state-of-the-art computational skills required of the next-generation workforce.
The main objective of NanoCompute is the development of a new focus within the nanoengineering curriculum that emphasizes computation, simulation, and modelling (CSM). We are integrating computation-based learning methods into new and existing undergraduate courses in the NanoEngineering Department, starting with first-year engineering courses and culminating in a two-quarter capstone senior design course. This project will teach students how to apply computational methods towards nanomaterials, nanodevices, and nanosystems design. These in silico methods will include ab initio calculations, molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo simulations, high-throughput calculations and data-mining techniques, and materials informatics.
The major activities of NanoCompute that were carried out in this reporting period fall into three categories: (i) modifications to existing courses in the undergraduate nanoengineering curriculum, (ii) the creation of new lab NanoCompute lab modules and infrastructure for those modules; and (iii) project evaluation.
During the reporting period, the NanoCompute project has provided training opportunities in computation, simulation, and modeling techniques for approximately 200 unique NE students. Training includes the practice and knowledge of computational techniques in both classroom, laboratory, and research-based learning environments. Lab classes, in particular, have provided these NanoEngineering students with ability to carry out both experimental and theoretical characterization of nanomaterials using the following software packages: Matlab, Moldyn, COMSOL Multiphysics, Lumerical, and CALPHAD.
Student outcomes from NanoCompute were gauged through formative and summative assessments within individual NanoCompute classes. In addition, we leveraged the existing Course And Professor Evaluation (CAPE) service at UCSD to gauge teaching effectiveness and implemented a senior exit survey to evaluate student learning outcomes for NanoCompute courses. Overall, student survey data indicates that NE students have a limited degree of practical computation and software knowledge, but that they general understand the concepts behind the theory and how to analyze simulation or modeling outputs. This data will be directly compared with data from the graduating class of 2015-16, who will have had multiple exposures to computational, simulation, and modeling techniques throughout their four-year undergraduate curriculum.
Future NUE activities include:
ﾕ Implementation of a new lab course for freshman (called ﾓE4ﾔ) to introduce them to nanoengineering concepts, including modeling.
ﾕ Revised lab modules will be published on nanoHUB.org and posted onto the PIﾒs website
ﾕ The purchase of additional computer workstations and networked server for the senior design course lab facility
NanoCompute is developing a focused computation, modeling, and simulation (CSM) curriculum for undergraduates that will develop an in-depth understanding of the core concepts underlying nanomaterials and nanoscale processes from a computational perspective. There are currently no established guidelines or criteria for undergraduate degree programs in nanoengineering or nanotechnology. This proposal is developing CSM-based lab modules and pedagogy that we expect to impact all future degree programs in these areas.
The curriculum implemented by NanoCompute is providing training in using state-of-the-art computational facilities and software packages that will prepare undergraduates for future studies and careers in nanoengineering. NanoCompute enables undergraduates to develop the computational, simulations and modeling skillsets that will be necessary for the next generation workforce. Nanotechnology has significant societal, economical, and scientific potential ﾗ it is a fast-growing interdisciplinary field with broad applications in medicine, energy, aerospace, and national defense. The demand for trained and educated nanotechnology workers is predicted to dramatically rise with nearly 2 million workers needed by 2015.
The results of this project were disseminated through: (i) Final oral presentations of the senior design teams, which was advertised school-wide and attended by NE faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from other engineering disciplines; (ii) Student poster presentations at the annual UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering Research Expo; (iii)
Presentations to undergraduates through the Nanoengineering and Technology Society at UCSD.
A proposed new class (First Principles Materials Design) is pending approval to be added to the NanoEngineering undergraduate course list and was not taught in the 2014-15 academic year. To work around this delay, the instructor will offer his graduate course ﾓQuantum Mechanical Modeling of Materials and Nanostructuresﾔ as an upper-level undergraduate elective. Undergraduate petitions to enroll in this course will be approved by the NanoEngineering Dept.ﾒs Undergraduate Affairs Committee.