Overview of Nanoengineering Programs
Undergraduate nanoengineering programs prepare students to work with materials whose size is below microscopic and measured in nanometers. These programs can offer concentrations in nanomedicine, material science, nanoelectronics and energy. Students are typically expected to choose a focus area after completing introductory coursework. Traditional classes in math and physics compliment specialized courses specific to the scope of nanoscale applications.
Admission Requirements for Nanoengineering Programs
There are a limited number of undergraduate degree programs available in the United States in this growing field, so admission to a nanoengineering program is often highly competitive. In some cases, applicants must have completed specific math and science coursework toward obtaining a high school diploma for program admission. Students will sometimes have to apply for specialized programs such as nanotechnology within the university after completing introductory college classes. Grade point average, diverse experiences, research, or other unique experiences are often criteria which are evaluated during the admission process.
Programs in nanoengineering are typically interdisciplinary with other science and engineering perspectives, and the coursework reflects this overlap. Given the cutting edge nature of these programs, undergraduates are sometimes expected to complete a senior thesis or other type of original design project for program completion.
Introduction to Nanoengineering
This class introduces the historical and interdisciplinary nature of nanotechnology. Topics may include the economic impact of nanotechnology and overall health and safety issues in this industry. Students may be introduced to the tools and material properties associated with nanoengineering.
A variety of tools such as electron microscopes and spectrometers are explored in relation to making nanomaterials in this class. Some of these materials may have self-assembly capabilities while others require a type of printing or lithographic process. Students learn about the entire manufacturing system and the unique concerns of contamination along with the limitations of current nanotechnologies.
Physical Principles of Nanotechnology
Physical properties include the way materials respond to heat, light and sound. Topics explored in this class range from vibrational resonance and the velocity of waves through nanomaterials to conductivity and expansion in response to interactions with the environment. Quantum properties involving free and confined electrons of solid structures are also discussed.
Chemical Principles of Nanotechnology
Chemical properties include the way materials are synthesized and respond to carbon-based molecules. The ability for substances to diffuse and chemically catalyze reactions on the surface of nanomaterials are concerns for this course. Thermodynamic and crystalline properties, which also affect the performance of nanotechnologies, are covered.
Biological Principles of Nanotechnology
Biological properties include the way compounds fold and self-assemble into a specific shape. These shapes determine the function of the material and properties, such as light scattering or electrolytic potential. Methods to predict and measure these properties are the focus of this class.
Nanoscience Research Applications
Students are often required to complete a research course working independently or as part of a design team to evaluate the design of nanoengineering solutions for a real-world problem. The format may include seminars and actual laboratory rotations. The goal of this class is to give students practical knowledge on the challenges and potential applications of nanotechnologies.
How to Choose a Program with a Nanoengineering Major
Things to consider when deciding on which university to attend include the variety of nanotechnology courses offered and the potential for graduate programs. Some undergraduate programs may be quite limited in the scope of coursework they offer, while others have a broad range of classes that include a variety of engineering principles. In addition, look for opportunities to participate in research when choosing your undergraduate program because the market is just beginning to develop and employers are looking for people to help create new products.
Career Options for a Nanoengineering Program Major
Nanoengineering degree programs teach students to use specific tools and to work in very technical and controlled environments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for chemical engineers, including those working with nanomaterials, are expected to grow 8% from 2016-2026. Also, it was reported that the median annual salary for these engineers was $98,340 in 2016. Other occupations that nanoengineering graduates can consider are listed with links below.