A Rubric for post-secondary degree programs in nanoscience and nanotechnology

Supaporn Wansom, Thomas O. Mason, Mark C. Hersam, Denise Drane, Gregory Light, Robert Cormia, Shawn Stevens, George Bodner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Based upon a set of 'big ideas' identified by recent workshops and a study report, a broad curriculum framework has been developed for degree programs in nanoscale science and engineering (NSE). The framework is built around four essential areas or nodes in NSE that include-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), and Applications (how nanomaterials and nano-devices can be designed and engineered for the benefit of society), which can be abbreviated as 'P-N-P-A'. This paper argues that the P-N-P-A rubric provides a tool for program and course construction and evaluation in higher education. An analysis of emerging NSE degree programs in the US suggests that improvements need to be made in the programmatic balance among the P-N-P-A nodes, with particular attention being 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 with access to advanced instrumentation, which is an essential element for student mastery of the 'nanostructure' node. Recommendations and challenges for achieving programmatic balance are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-627
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 10 2009


  • Course design
  • Curriculum design
  • Degree programs
  • Nanoscience
  • Nanotechnology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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