Dr. Brent Nelson

Brent_Nelson_by_canyon 

Dr. Brent Nelson, Assistant Professor; (PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007).  Dr. Nelson completed his PhD at GeorgiaTech performing interdisciplinary research at the intersection of thermal transport, materials science, and nanofabrication.  Before joining the faculty at NAU, he served as a postdoctoral fellow in engineering education with the National Academy of Engineering CASEE program, during which he worked with the Center for Biologically-Inspired Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  There he studied the use of Biologically-Inspired Design as a context for studying innovative design, student design behavior, and multidisciplinary collaboration.

Dr. Nelson’s diverse skill set suits his primary technical research interest of working on problems at the intersection of the sciences and engineering, with current areas of interest including applications of atomic force microscopy, characterization of biomaterials, renewable energy, energy conservation, and biomimetic design.

His engineering education research interests include multidisciplinary collaboration, design learning, and problem-based learning.

His personal academic interests include pretty much everything else, and his non-academic interests include trying to be a blessing to the world around him, assorted outdoor activities, musical instruments, and shenanigans.

Primary technical expertise

  • atomic force microscopy
  • bioengineering
  • nanomaterials and nanofabrication
  • heat transfer & thermal transport physics
  • thermodynamics
  • design methodology
  • materials science

Educational background

  • PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2007
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2004
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering (High Honors), University of California – Berkeley, 2002      

Employment history         

  • Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University - Department of Mechanical Engineering, 8/2008-present.  Hired in the areas of design and thermal sciences.
  • National Academy of Engineering CASEE Postdoctoral Fellow, 2007-2008.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Woodruff Teaching Fellow, 2007
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, NDSEG Fellow, GRA, 2002-2006.

Courses and topics usually taught        

  • ME291 - Thermodynamics I
  • ME392 - Thermodynamics II
  • ME450 - Heat Transfer
  • EGR 186 - Introduction to Engineering Design
  • EGR 286 - Engineering Design: The Process
  • EGR 502 - Topics in Advanced Design (innovative design/bio-inspired design)           

Courses taken for fun       

  • Principles of Biology
  • Problems in Biomedical Engineering
  • Microbiology 
  • Molecular Genetics
  • General Pathology
  • Organic Chemistry I
  • Organic Chemistry II
  • Fundamental Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry I
  • Phyisical Chemistry II
  • Surface Analysis
  • Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

Honors, awards, and professional activities  

  • NAU College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences Teacher of the Year, 2013-2014
  • USASBE Faculty Scholarship, 2010
  • Frontiers in Education New Faculty Fellow, 2009
  • ASEE Best Paper Nomination, 2008
  • NAE CASEE Postdoctoral Fellow, 2007-2008
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Woodruff Teaching Fellow, 2007
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Presidential Fellow, 2002-2006
  • NDSEG Fellow, 2003-2006
  • Graduate SGA Outstanding Poster Award for College of Engineering, 2006
  • Member: American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)         

Research interests

  • multidisciplinary collaboration
  • applications of atomic force microscopy
  • biomimetic design
  • biomaterials characterization
  • thermal characterization of battery performance
  • micro/nanoscale thermal transport
  • energy conservation

Publications

   Book Chapters:

  • BA Nelson and W.P. King, Applications of Heated Atomic Force Microscope Cantilevers, Applied Scanning Probe Methods IV, B. Bhushan and E. Meyer, eds., Springer-Verlag (2006).

Journal Publications:

  • J. Wilson, B.A. Nelson, D. Rosen, and J. Yen, “The effects of biological examples in idea generation,” Design Studies, 31 (2010), 169-186
  • B.A. Nelson, J. Wilson, D. Rosen and J. Yen, “Refined metrics for measuring ideation effectiveness,” Design Studies, 30 (2009), 737-743
  • B.A. Nelson, W.P. King, "Modeling and Simulation of the interface Temperature Between a Heated Silicon Cantilever Tip an a Substrate," Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophys, Eng., 12 (2008) 98-115.
  • B.A. Nelson and W.P. King, "Temperature Calibration of Heated Silicon Atomic Force Microscope Cantilevers," Sens. Act. A, 140 (2007) 51-59.
  • B.A. Nelson, W.P. King, "Measuring material softening with nanoscale spatial resolution using heated silicon probes," Rev. Sci. Instrum., 78 (2007) 023702. Republished online in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscience &Nanotechnology 15 (7), 2007.
  • W.P. King, S. Sanexa, B.A. Nelson, R. Pitchimani and B.L. Weeks, "Nanoscale Thermal Analysis of an Energetic Material," Nano Lett., 6 (2006) 2145-2149.
  • J. Lee, T. Beechem, T.L. Wright, B.A. Nelson, S. Graham and W.P. King, "Electrical, Thermal, and Mechanical Characterization of Silicon Microcantilever-Heaters," J. Microelectromech. Syst., 15 (2006) 1644-1655.
  • B.A. Nelson, W.P. King, A.R. Laracuente, P.E. Shehan and L.J. Whitman, "Direct deposition of continuous metal nanostructures by thermal dip-pen nanolithography," Appl. Phys. Lett., 88 (2006) 033104. Republished online in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology 13 (4), 2006.
  • B.A. Nelson, K. Gall, and W.P. King, “Recovery of Nanoscale Indentations in a Thermoset 'Shape Memory' Polymer,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 86, (2005) 103108.  Republished online in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology 11 (10), 2005.
  • B.A. Nelson, K. Gall, and W.P. King, “Recovery of Nanoscale Indentations in a Thermoset 'Shape Memory' Polymer,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 86, (2005) 103108.  Republished online in the Virtual Journal of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology 11 (10), 2005.

     Refereed Conference Proceedings: 

  • B.A. Nelson, "WIP: Using a competency-based instructional approach in thermodynamics." Proceedings, Frontiers in Education Conference 2013, Oklahoma City, OK.
  • A. Ford, B.A. Nelson, “Characterizing the mechanical properties of tropoelastin protein scaffolds,” Proceedings, MRS 2013 Spring Conference, San Francisco, CA
  • B.A. Nelson, C. Ciocanel, “A Follow Up Study on Building Connections Between Experiment, Theory, and Physical Intuition in Thermal Systems,” Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference 2011, Vancouver, BC. 
  • B.A. Nelson, C. Ciocanel, “Connecting Experiment, Theory, and Physical Intuition in Heat Transfer With a Low-Cost Solar Water Heater Design Project,” Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference 2010, Louisville, KY. 
  • B.A. Nelson, J.O. Wilson, J. Yen, "A Study of Biologically-Inspired Design as a Context for Enhancing Student Innovation, " Proceedings, Frontiers in Education Conference 2009, San Antonio, TX.
  • B.A. Nelson, "The impact of exposure to biologically-inspired design on environmental ethics of undergraduate engineering students," Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference 2009, Austin, TX.
  • B.A. Nelson, “Biologically-Inspired Design: A Unique Multidisciplinary Design Model,” Proceedings, ASEE Annual Conference 2008, Pittsburgh, PA
  • B.A. Nelson, W.P. King, “Thermal Calibration of Heated Silicon Atomic Force Microscope Cantilevers,” Proceedings, Transducers 2007, Lyon, France
  • B.A. Nelson, M.A. Poggi, L.A. Bottomley, W.P. King, 2003, "Temperature-dependence of water bridge formation in atomic force microscopy," Proceedings, ASME IMECE2003, Washington, D.C., Vol. 2, pp. 41762/1-8
  •   J.A. Preciado, B. Rubinsky, D. Otten, B. Nelson, M.C. Martin, R. Greif, 2002, "Radiative Properties of Polar Bear Hair," Proceedings, ASME IMECE2002, New Orleans, LA, BED-Vol 53, Advances in Bioengineering.

Other interests       

  • musical instruments (guitar, djembe, banjo, mandolin)
  • outdoor sport (hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, wakeboarding)
  • friends and family
  • laughter and love

Science nerd t-shirts designed

Brownie in Motion (Joe Charest, Marcus Eliason, Fabian Goericke, Brent Nelson, Harry Rowland)
brownie 

Van Der Waals - Slightly Attractive (Joe Charest, Fabian Goericke, Brent Nelson, Harry Rowland)
VDW