Undergraduate students from Engineering, Physics & Chemistry come together to form a multidisciplinary team as part of an undergraduate research opportunity through a sequence of independent study courses within the Department of Engineering at James Madison University. The undergraduate research team typically ranges from freshman to seniors totaling approximately six to eight students per academic year. One of the primary objectives is to provide a high-level research experience for undergraduates in a nurturing environment within the academic year. Peer-mentoring is integral piece to the team dynamics. Within our framework, the juniors and seniors serve as peer-mentors to the freshman and sophomores. The research backdrop deals with synthesizing polymer nanocomposites comprised of rare-earth doped ligand surface treated nanocrystals within polymers.
The focus of the talk will be the course sequence that facilitates the research opportunity that could be applied to obtaining a minor in Materials Science. The sequence of courses allows for problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, and collaborative efforts with outside entities. The course objectives are geared towards developing critical & creative thinking, technical writing and oral communication skills through the development of planned action & experiments with data analysis as well as submitting findings to present at regional and national conferences.