Based upon a set of "big ideas" identified by recent National Center for Learning & Teaching (NCLT) workshops and a resulting study report, a broad curricular framework has been developed for degree programs in nanoscale science and engineering (NSE).
The framework is built around four essential areas in NSE referred to as PNPA:
- Processing - how nano-entities are fabricated
- Nanostructure - how the structure of nano-entities can be imaged and characterized
- Properties - the resulting size-dependent and surface-related properties of nanostructured materials/devices
- Applications - how nanomaterials and nanodevices can be designed and engineered for the benefit of society
We argue, based on an analysis of emerging NSE degree programs in the U.S., that improvements need to be made in the programmatic balance among the P-N-P-A nodes, with particular attention paid to essential features such as the interdisciplinarity of NSE and its societal impact (ethics, safety, and so on).
A significant challenge for achieving programmatic balance is providing students access to advanced instrumentation, which is an essential element for student mastery of the nanostructure area.
Wansom, S., Mason, T., Hersam, M., Drane, D., Light, G.,Cormia, R., Stevens, S., & Bodner, G. (2009). A rubric for post-secondary degree programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology. International Journal of Engineering Education, 25(3), 615-627.