Nanoengineering and chemical engineering at UC San Diego in the spotlight

San Diego, Calif., August 10, 2020 -- A creative group of faculty, students and staff within the University of California San Diego are taking innovative approaches to develop breakthroughs in nanomedicine, flexible electronics, and energy storage. Together, this group makes up the Department of NanoEngineering and the Chemical Engineering Program at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. 

A virtual issue of the journal ACS Nano highlights the wide ranging research, educational and workforce-development contributions of this extraordinary group. A group of UC San Diego nanoengineering faculty led by professor Darren Lipomi wrote the editorial for this virtual issue, which serves to organize a number of recent papers from the department that have been published in ACS Nano.

The nanoengineering department is highly interdisciplinary and known internationally for its many strengths in research areas that are leading to innovations in nanomedicine, flexible electronics, and energy storage. Leadership in computational materials science cuts across the entire department. Chemical engineering is also integral to the department. As theoretical and computational strengths within the department grow, the connections between chemical engineering, nanoengineering and materials science continue to multiply. The results will shape multiple fields for years to come.

Just this summer, UC San Diego won a prestigious $18 million Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) from the National Science Foundation. All four of the faculty co-leading the two research thrusts within this MRSEC -- predictive assembly and living materials -- are nanoengineering professors. In addition, the MRSEC director and associate director hold secondary and primary appointments in nanoengineering, respectively. 

Winning this MRSEC speaks to the forward-looking moves at UC San Diego to connect nanoengineering and chemical engineering. The MRSEC is also the first big win for the UC San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery and Design (IMDD), which focuses on bridging the gap between physical scientists and engineers on the campus to enable cross-disciplinary research. The IMDD is also led by a nanoengineering professor. 

In the editorial introducing the virtual issue, the editorial authors highlight recent contributions from department research groups in the areas of nanomedicine, biomaterials, flexible and stretchable electronics, complex alloys and heterointerfaces, theory and computation, energy storage, nanophotonics and nanomagnetics, and photovoltaics.

Education is also central to the mission of the department, which offers BS, MS, and PhD degrees in two programs: nanoengineering and chemical engineering. Both BS degrees are ABET certified. 

The department faculty include four professors who are specialists in the pedagogy of chemical engineering. These core chemical engineering teaching faculty lead the way well-established curricula that are consistent with other top programs. 

The nanoengineering curriculum, on the other hand, is more unique. Given its interdisciplinarity and newness, faculty design nanoengineering curricula in ways that can respond to new developments in the field and at the same time provide relevant theoretical and practical grounding for students to allow them to develop satisfying careers while meeting the needs of employers. 

Input from the department's Industrial Advisory Board, exit surveys with students, internal teaching working groups, and external feedback from auditors and review committees are used to improve our program in a continuous manner. 

Faculty and students in the department are engaged with industry partners on projects of shared interest across many application areas. Nanoengineering faculty play key roles in industry focused centers and institutes across the Jacobs School of Engineering including: the Sustainable Power and Energy Center (SPEC), the Center for Wearable Sensors (CWS), the Center for NanoImmunoEngineering (NanoIE), the Contextual Robotics Institute (CRI), and the Institute for Materials Discovery and Design (MRSEC)

Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering
858-534-3262
dbkane@ucsd.edu

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