The International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glass (IMI-NFG - www.lehigh.edu/imi) was established in 2004 . Two important goals of this institute have been to facilitate international collaboration in glass research and to support the training of a professional workforce. The REU program has been an important component of our mission since 2005. Glass science provides the central theme of our program, which has both an international and domestic component. In this paper we provide a summary of our accomplishments and experiences with this unique and innovative, materials focused, multidisciplinary REU program. While glass provides the unifying theme of our program, the research topics and project advisers come from various departments including biology, physics, environmental and civil engineering, electrical engineering, etc. This mode of REU operation has provided an effective means to introduce faculty from other departments to new and innovative applications of glass as an enabling material for their own work.
For the domestic REU, we partner with the Physics REU Program at Lehigh, sharing many crucial administrative aspects as well as housing, seminars and social events. The complementary approach of the two REU programs has been very beneficial to both of them. We will discuss details of our approaches to recruitment, selection and creating an environment conducive to cohesive and motivated community of young researchers. While the majority of student experiences have been through individual projects, we have also experimented with small teams headed by a single adviser. These teams emphasize a cooperative education model and the group can thus accommodate a greater diversity of individual student skills and experiences. Such projects tend to provide opportunity for open-ended exploration within the context of a general goal. Some of the projects are specifically focused on developing low-cost, hands-on methods for teaching glass science to others through a more experiential and intuitive approach. All of these REU projects have been incorporated in an on-line collection of activities for the science education community at large as reported previously [2,3].
For the international component, our role has been to support glass faculty in the country, who wish to engage their own undergraduate students in a glass based summer research in the lab of an international colleague. These experiences require considerable preparation and individual attention. We will discuss the challenges as well as some of our successful strategies to deal with both the international and domestic programs.
1. IMI-NFG is supported by National Science Foundation (DMR-0844014). 2. W. Heffner and H. Jain, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc., Vol. 1233, 2010. 3. W. Heffner and H. Jain, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc., Vol. 1657, 2014.