Posted: February 4, 2009

$500k grant to integrate nanotechnology research into undergraduate education

(Nanowerk News) Cal State Northridge has received $500,000 from the W.M. Keck Foundation for a two-year project that exposes undergraduate engineering and science students to the study and research of nanotechnology.
Specifically, the money from the Keck Foundation will fund the purchase of a field emission scanning electron microscope with energy dispersive spectroscopy—which can visualize and characterize complex phenomena that occur at a nano-size scale—for the Advanced Materials Laboratory in CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.
The microscope and spectroscopy will be used by students in the two-year Integrating Nanotechnology into Undergraduate Education Project. The project is designed to immerse students in nanotechnology through participation in research, interdisciplinary courses, pre-college activities and interaction with professionals in industry who work in nanotechnology.
Manufacturing systems engineering and management professor Behzad Bavarian working in his lab
Manufacturing systems engineering and management professor Behzad Bavarian working in his lab. He has received a $500,000 grant to integrate nanotechnology research into undergraduate education.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” said manufacturing systems engineering and management professor Behzad Bavarian, the project’s coordinator. “The purchase of the microscope is a great contribution to our program. It allows us to truly incorporate nanotechnology into undergraduate education.”
Bavarian said the microscope and spectroscopy “set the stage for new collaborative research opportunities with industry partners whose support will enable continuation of the project’s work.
“The processes and outcomes of such research will, in turn, be formed in modules that will vitally enrich CSUN’s existing undergraduate engineering and science curricula, and provide the basis for new interdisciplinary courses,” Bavarian said. “Students who take these interdisciplinary courses will be well prepared for work in sophisticated research.”
Students in the Nanotechnology in Undergraduate Education (NUE) program will take interdisciplinary courses in the sciences and engineering as well as have an opportunity to work closely with faculty and industry professionals as they do research and develop products using nanotechnology.
One component of the project involves the creation of two successive cohorts of 10 junior-level engineering and science majors—NUE Fellows—who will spend two years doing research for one of eight joint projects being conducted by university faculty and local industry.
As part of the program, CSUN faculty—building on their experiences working with the undergraduate students in the program—also will develop an introductory engineering course focusing on nanotechnology that will be sent to local high schools.
The goal is to get young people, particularly those in underrepresented communities, excited about going to college and pursuing degrees in science or engineering and, specifically, working in the field of nanotechnology, Bavarian said.
“Such pre-college nanotechnology exposure, along with participation in related robotics workshops and competitions, fires young imaginations and encourages pursuit of higher education in nanotechnology and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” he said.
William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company, established the W.M. Keck Foundations in 1954 in Los Angeles. The foundation is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic organizations, with assets of more than $1 billion. In recent years, the foundation has focused on science and engineering research, medical research, undergraduate education, and Southern California. Each of its grant programs invests in people and programs that are making a difference in the quality of life, now and for the future.
Source: California State University Northridge
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