Pitt Combining Tiny Science, Tech in Multidisciplinary NSF-Funded Course

Issue Date: 
October 9, 2006

University’s Nanotechnology Undergraduate Grant one of only 10 in United States

Minhee Yun, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in Pitt’s School of Engineering, and his coprincipal investigators have been awarded a National Science Foundation Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education grant, one of only 10 such awards in the United States and the first such grant Pitt has received. The two-year, $200,000 grant will allow the University to develop a course on integrated nanoscale science and engineering.

Yun’s coprincipal investigators are Alexander Star, assistant professor of chemistry in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, and Noreen Garman, professor in Pitt’s School of Education. Yun and Star also are researchers in the University’s Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering. Pitt recently was ranked second in the nation in nano- and microscale research by Small Times.

“Nanotechnology is booming, and the National Science Foundation is encouraging professors to develop nanotechnology educational programs,” said Yun. “Not many of these programs exist yet in undergraduate curricula.”

The hands-on, research-oriented course will introduce nanoscale devices and their applications created from a range of nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and nanowires.

The class will be divided into teams, one of which will be selected to do its proposed research at a related laboratory in the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering with a paid summer research stipend. The ultimate goal is for the students to publish their research in refereed journals.

The course, scheduled to begin in fall 2007, will be administered through ECE but will be open to sophomore-level-and-above engineering students, chemistry and physics students in Arts and Sciences, and students in other related specializations, including medicine.