Teaching & Outreach

University Classes
Fall 2017: Prof. Ringe teaches MSNE201: Introduction to NanoEngineering  MSNE201_F2016_Syllabus

Spring 2017: Electron microscopy class was offered for the second time, see MSNE580/582 webpage

Materials Science Oureach for Persons with Visual Impairment

A full explanation of four of the modules and step-by-step guide is described here.

If you are interested in collaborating or hosting and event, please contact us!

Current science heavily relies on visual aids such as graphs to demonstrate concepts. However this is a problem for those with visual disabilities, and as a result, the visually impaired have limited access to scientific knowledge. To address this, the Ringe Group has an ongoing effort, funded in 2015-2016 by the Materials Research Society’s Materials Touch to demonstrate scientific concepts – specifically materials science – using nonvisual means. We are creating several modules that convey different concepts and will present them to local communities of visually impaired people. We will also provide open-source access to the modules online, allowing other institutions use our methods across the globe. Below are brief descriptions of the modules we are creating.

  • Strength of Materials – An important aspect of materials science is determining what materials to use for various applications. To do this, it is important to determine the properties of materials, such as yield strength and ductility. This module will demonstrate how different materials react when forces are applied to them and how different materials react differently.
  • Why are Transparent Materials Transparent? – From solar cells to cellphones’ screens, transparent materials are very important in the development of new, sustainable technologies. These materials have special properties that characterize them, allowing them to let light pass through them. In this module, these properties will be explained, and a demonstration of how materials absorb or transmit light will be shown.
  • The Sound of Data – For most people, a series of numbers is more meaningful when viewed graphically. As a result, scientists often rely on graphs to extract useful information from data sets but visually impaired people are unable to understand graphical information in the traditional sense. This module brings graphical data to everyone by transforming graphs into audible spectra! A MATLAB® driven MIDI controller is used to play various data sets. Users can interact with the data to locate peaks in the spectra, enabling them to hear distinct differences between datasets.
  • Hearing the (Electromagnetic) World Around Us – Our daily lives are saturated by noise from the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum: from visible colors that decorate daily objects to the invisible signals of our WIFI and cell phones. The wavelengths covered by the EM spectrum spans an incredible range over ~14 orders of magnitude! For the visually impaired, a small (~1 order of magnitude) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum is hidden from perception. For everyone else, we are blind to the hidden signals of the electromagnetic surrounding us. In this model we use a function generator, oscilloscope, and speakers to visually and audibly demonstrate the electromagnetic signals hidden from view.
  • Scale Analysis – Material properties change as you go from the atomic scale to the nanoscale and eventually to the bulk scale. For many people, it is difficult to comprehend the true size of objects that they can’t see or touch. The purpose of this module is to explain how large the nanoscale is, in comparison to the scale of objects that people are more familiar with.

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