New curriculum mixes nanotechnology and skiing

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$200,000 National Science Foundation grant for University of Nevada, Reno

Nanotechnology seems a daunting subject, but for mechanical engineering students at the University of Nevada, Reno, it has taken on a real world approach – in “Ski Building 101”.

“Yes, we’re going to make skis. No, it’s not really Ski Building 101,” said Kam K. Leang, the faculty member and principal investigator for a project to further integrate nanotechnology into the undergraduate curriculum at the University.

The curriculum isn’t just for building skis. Practical, easy-to-relate-to macro-scale applications such as aerospace structures and wind-energy turbine blades will also be introduced into sophomore- and junior-level courses.

Leang and two colleagues at the University, Jonghwan Suhr and John Cannon, aim to prepare 21st century mechanical engineers at the University to meet the emerging challenges of nanotechnology using a top-down approach where the first important step is to excite them about the technology.

WHO: Kam Leang, professor in the mechanical engineering department who has also been successfully building skis in his garage for five years, will be available for interviews

WHAT: Demonstration for the media of ski building with newly constructed ski press

WHERE: Palmer Engineering Building, downstairs in Room 6, the electroactive systems lab

WHEN: Noon,Thurs., Dec. 3

WHY: Opportunity to see the ski being built by students and hear about the new curriculum being developed to be used by universities nationwide

“We want students to get enthused about mechanical engineering, to see the possibilities and potential of nanotechnology,” Leang said.

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