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Undergraduate students with science or engineering majors will have a wider scale of options when choosing a minor.

Starting this fall, students will be able to enroll in the new minor Nanoscale Science and Technology, which is built around three new nano-courses, and is worth 18 credit hours.

With a focus on the fundamentals, concepts, principals and the implementations to society, this minor is a start to the emerging possibilities undergraduate students will have within the rapid advance in nanoscience at UCF.

According to the National Nanotechnology Initiative, nanoscience and nanotechnology are the study and application of very small structures and materials that can be used in the study and research of all science fields, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science and engineering.

"The overall goal is for the students to acquire a working knowledge of nanoscience principles and industrial applications, and to understand the societal and technology issues that may impede the adoption of nanotechnology," said Enrique del Barco, a professor in the physics department and the creator of the minor.

Through this minor, del Barco stated that students are expected to develop the ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively, as well as identify paths, necessary knowledge and skills required for nanotechnology careers.

"The minor program in nanoscale science and technology is designed to be accessible and available to any student majoring in science or engineering," del Barco said. "It is open to all students who have the necessary prerequisites to enroll in the courses that constitute the minor."

The prerequisites necessary for enrollment in this minor are the College Physics sequence or the Physics for Engineers and Scientists sequence, and Chemistry 1 or Chemistry for Engineers.

"As an undergraduate student involved in biomolecular research, it is important to have a strong foundation in nanoscience," junior biology major Brian Harte said.

Harte said this new minor allows him to contribute to the exciting and innovative projects that he and his research team are working on in the physics department.

"This new minor will provide students from all science disciplines the knowledge needed to succeed in their field of study at the nanoscale level," he said.

The minor will encompass three core courses that are service-learning approved. UCF Office of Experiential Learning defines service-learning as "a teaching method that uses community involvement to apply theories or skills being taught in a course."

Through service-learning, del Barco said students will enhance their understanding of the topics covered in the nano-courses by developing activities for middle school students — in collaboration with middle school instructors at participating schools — to prepare for an effective dissemination of their scientific knowledge.

With advances in all fields of science on a much smaller scale, junior biology major Malcolm Palmer said UCF is providing undergraduate students with the opportunity to keep current on innovative research and knowledge.

"Not only is the minor able to provide students with a service-learning environment, it provides an opportunity for students to help be a part of the inspiration of science, technology, mathematics and engineering in the next generation," Palmer added.

For those interested in enrolling in the upcoming minor, del Barco advises students to contact him to declare their participation, and develop a program and schedule of courses to take.

Students can e-mail him at delbarco@ucf.edu and visit http://physics.cos.ucf.edu/undergraduate/degrees/nano/ for more information.

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Megan Turner is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.

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