CHTM faculty member Sang M. Han part of team receiving major NSF grant

July 22, 2016 - Excerpted from an article by Kim Delker in the UNM Newsroom

UNM Professor Sang M. Han

Sang M. Han

A project led by UNM faculty that is designed to revolutionize how engineering is taught at the undergraduate level has been recognized with a $2 million, 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project seeks to address the urgent need to produce more engineers who are ready to solve societal problems that include clean water, a clean environment, diverse and sustainable energy sources, and improved health care. Also, the project is designed to make engineering a more attractive choice to groups that are currently underrepresented in engineering programs.

The project is titled "FACETS: Formation of Accomplished Chemical Engineers for Transforming Society." It is led by Abhaya Datye and co-investigators Eva Chi and Sang Han from the UNM Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE), and Sung Kang and Vanessa Svihla from the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences (OILS) Program.

National Science Foundation logo

The UNM CBE department was the only chemical engineering department to receive an award this year as part of the $14 million invested by the NSF in their RED (Revolutionizing Engineering Departments) program, which was just announced recently. UNM received one of only seven grants awarded this year.

Datye said, “Our goal is to show students, even freshmen, how they can get engaged in solving some of these challenges. This form of learning through practice will help motivate students to persist in the difficult core classes that engineers must complete before they graduate... This project aims to bring these challenges to the entire undergraduate class.

The project also has the goal of making engineering education more interesting to attract women, minorities, and those who are first-generation college students and lack role models in high-tech or scientific careers.

Han is hopeful that the project will lead to an increase in student retention. “The community-based engineering challenges are an expected draw in bringing civic-minded engineering students to our program, while retaining their interest,” he said.

Recently, Han was one of 63 inventors honored with plaques and stipends at the 2016 STC Innovation Awards Dinner for patents issued to UNM inventors in the past year.

Han is a Professor with the Departments of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering; Associate Chair of Chemical & Biological Engineering; and the Director of Nanoscience & Microsystems Engineering; as well as a CHTM faculty member.

Most of this post was excerpted from an article published by Kim Delker at the UNM Newsroom, where you can learn more about the NSF grant to UNM's RED team.