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SBIR Phase I: Prototyping a Laboratory Kit to Assist Undergraduate Instructors in Teaching Self-Assembly
Phone: (615) 879-8663
Phone: (615) 879-8663
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project resides in motivating cross-disciplinary innovations for more efficient, smarter, and safer technologies. These benefits will be realized by empowering the next generation workforce with knowledge of a phenomenon that is revolutionizing the modern day innovation ecosystem. This marvel is called "self-assembly", and is used by nature to build structures ranging from protein complexes to living organisms. Researchers are harnessing this natural phenomenon to drive scientific advancements including nanowires with increased computing power and pharmaceuticals with greater therapeutic potential, demonstrating that self-assembly holds the potential to seed disruptive technologies across multiple disciplines. To unlock the full innovative potential of this phenomenon, self-assembly must be taught to the upcoming generation of scientists and engineers in an engaging and insightful manner. This SBIR Phase I project aims to integrate self-assembly into the teaching curriculum of undergraduate science courses. By educating students about the intricacies and applications of self-assembly, this project will inspire future breakthroughs and accrue compounding societal and commercial benefits. The proposed project aims to prototype a consumer-focused minimum viable product (MVP) that assists undergraduate instructors in teaching the emerging phenomenon of selfassembly. The absence of such a product to date is likely attributable to the technical hurdles that challenge the ability to demonstrate self-assembly in a cross-disciplinary yet straightforward manner. The research objectives incorporate proof-of-concept experimentation and reiterative product builds to design a prototype that efficiently caters to undergraduate instructors and their teaching practices. More specifically, the objectives are to: 1. Design components that demonstrate self-assembly across multiple scales and disciplines. 2. Create educational content that effectively disseminates knowledge of self-assembly and its applications. 3. Field-test and optimize the prototype in response to end user experiences. The resulting MVP will provide materials and instructions to conduct various self-assembly demonstrations in a cost-effective and readily deployable manner. The product would be the first educational tool to address self-assembly in this manner.
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