Sponsors: NSF, Society for Engineering Education, Stanford Office of Science Outreach

Heat transfer instruction has experienced importance changes over the past two decades with the increasing relevance of new disciplines of science, such as solid state physics, and the importance of small lengthscales. The mechanical engineering undergraduate experience needs to evolve in response to these changes. It is also critical that we help highschool students – particularly those from underpriviledged communities – appreciate the opportunities and impact that are available through the study of energy conversion and heat transfer.

Stanford’s Nanoheat Lab has a long tradition of teaching innovation. In the late 1990’s we developed the Microscale Thermosciences Teaching Laboratory (MTTL), which allowed undergraduates to visualize, electrically probe and heat, and perform electrical-resistance and thermocouple thermometry on microdevices fabricated at the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility and at local companies. This tradition lives on and is extended today through our participation in the POETS Center (led by University of Illinois Urbana Champagn), under which we welcome highschool teachers to our lab for study and learning alongside the researchers as they develop curricula to take back to their students.

Education and outreach are used in conjunction with our projects to bring engineering principles to a broader audience
High school students in Santa Cruz, CA build heat sinks for thermoelectric generators to maximize the power output of a commercial thermoelectric module