Department Overview

Welcome to the Department of NanoEngineering (NE) at UC San Diego. This letter is intended to provide a general overview of the department’s research focus areas, its unique undergraduate and graduate degree program curricula, introduce you to some of our new, energetic and innovative faculty, and motivate you to learn more about us.

The Department of NanoEngineering at UCSD is the 6th engineering department within the Jacobs School of Engineering and was officially approved on July 1, 2007. Nanoengineering is the practice of engineering on the nanoscale, wherein the unique and enabling aspects of a nanoscale material or structure are used to create a device to be utilized by mankind. Nanoengineering concerns itself with controlling matter on the molecular scale and manipulating processes that occur on the scale of nanometers. In NanoEngineering, we attempt to design and manufacture devices and systems that exploit the unique properties of nanoscale materials to create entirely new functionality and capabilities. Due to the scale of engineering involved, the field of NanoEngineering is inherently interdisciplinary that often utilizes biochemical processes to create nanoscale materials designed to interact with synthetic inorganic materials. In simpler terms, NanoEngineering attempts to manipulate the ‘growth’ of materials on the nanometer scale, mimicking the processes of nature, which could potentially lead to a vast array of revolutionary materials and products that would benefit all other aspects of engineering, medicine, and other technologies, and everyday life. Nanotechnologies are quickly infiltrating every aspect of engineering and science, and a wide array of new industries are emerging based specifically on nanoscale technological innovations.

Since its creation, the department has been growing at a very rapid rate, and now has 22 faculty members comprising of 10 full professors, 3 associate professor, 6 assistant professors and 3 lecturers. These 22 faculty members are the Principle Investigator (PI) or co-PI on nearly $30 million in extramural funding.  Our NE department is the first of its kind in the US to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in NanoEngineering, and both degree programs are already garnering a huge amount of interest amongst students across the school of engineering. We admitted our first freshman class of students in Fall 2010 with an initial student population of approximately 75 students.  This student population has increased to 300 since 2010. In addition to our undergraduate degree program in NanoEngineering, we now have a NanoEngineering graduate degree program. The NE dept. also administers the Chemical Engineering undergraduate program (with more than 700 students), which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.orgas well as the Chemical Engineering graduate program.   Now that our NanoEngineering graduate degree program is approved, we expect our graduate student numbers to quickly reach 150+ in the upcoming academic year.

The research activities and educational mission of the NanoEngineering department are focused in three main areas related to Nanotechnologies: (a) Biomedical Nanotechnology, (b) Molecular and Nanomaterials, and (c) Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment. The curricula for the new NE degree programs is leveraged on our strong research position in nano-biomedical engineering and nanomaterials synthesis and characterization activities and is specifically intended to develop students to be team leaders and innovators in corporations that have nanotechnology-centric applications, where our graduates will play the critical role to integrate across the varied disciplines involved, and help overcome the inherent challenges of engineering at the nanoscale. Their unique training in NanoEngineering will enable them to naturally become these leaders.

The new NanoEngineering undergraduate degree program is a truly ‘bottom-up’ science-based nanoscale engineering program, with a unique structure that allows students to pursue the core of the education in the field of NanoEngineering, while allowing the students to select a more ‘traditional’ engineering discipline as a focus area. The options for the focus areas include: (1) Bioengineering, (2) Electrical Engineering, (3) Mechanical Engineering, (4) Chemical Engineering, or (5) Materials Science. Complete program details can be found on our website. The curriculum includes: 59 units of Basic Science and Mathematics, 48 units of Humanities and Social Sciences, 16 units of Engineering Preparation courses, 37 units of Nanoengineering core subjects (these are new classes crafted specifically to address the foundations of the NanoEngineering field and the translation of the foundational principles across discipline and scale boundaries), 24 units of engineering focus (described above), and another 8 units of NanoEngineering electives. Details of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs can be found elsewhere on our website under the appropriate links.

The department’s first newsletter is linked on our site as a downloadable pdf file and contains several research articles written by our faculty, wherein they describe their own work, its motivation, challenges, and potential applications. These articles are intended to provide insight into our vision of the NanoEngineering field, which is inherently multidisciplinary and focuses of engineering challenges at the interfaces between traditional engineering fields.

Welcome to our NanoEngineering Department, please check the website to keep up with the latest news.