Nanosystems Modeling - CMEN 420/ CMEN 557/ NsE 490

(Spring quarter)

Apart from weekly homework activities, there is a final group project, which consists of the design of a computer-based experiment that can be easily explained to GK-12 students, teachers, and a general audience. To successfully achieving this task, the students are trained during the course with the use of movie makers, and the preparation of animated pictures from their molecular simulations. They are also introduced to the National and State science, math, and technology standards and grade level expectations. Toward the end of the course, each group presents orally their projects in the presence of a panel of judges who will evaluate the idea, overall performance of the group members, and whether their tasks have been achieved properly.  

Nanosystems Modeling, supported by my NSF-CAREER Award, was initially designed and first implemented at LA Tech in Spring 2006 as a technical elective course to junior/senior students in Chemical Engineering, Nanosystems Engineering, Biological sciences, Biomedical engineering, Chemistry, and Physics, and a graduate level course to be taken by students in MS/Molecular Science and Nano-Technology, MS/MicroSystems Engineering, PhD/ENGR, and PhD/Computational Analysis and Modeling. In Fall 2007, Nanosystems Modeling became a required course for the Nanosystems Engineering degree in all concentrations, while continuing an elective to other undergraduate and graduate programs at Louisiana Tech.

Science and engineering students usually have difficulties visualizing matter due to its unobservable basis. Using molecular modeling in science and engineering education provides the basis for individual learning, and the possibility to “visualize” abstract concepts through computer simulations and graphics, permitting representations and demonstrations of models of the micro and nano world. This fact inspired me to design the Nanosystems Modeling course, which consists of a series of lectures about several molecular modeling techniques, such as Ab Initio, Density Functional Theory, Semi-empirical methods, Molecular Mechanics, Molecular Dynamics and Monte Carlo, including practical applications to real nano and bio-systems.  At the end of the Nanosystems Modeling course students are expected to be able to:

i. Identify the right computational techniques for modeling a given system,

ii. Interpret and describe the outputs of the simulations,

iii. Apply different computational techniques on a variety of applications,

iv. Derive and perform computations combining the outputs of several simulations,

v. Design a computer-based experiment using the material covered in class that

can be easily explained to a general audience, and

vi. Evaluate, select, and justify the steps to follow in the design of learning materials

based on molecular simulations.