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
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
Primary technical expertise
- atomic force microscopy
- nanomaterials and nanofabrication
- heat transfer & thermal transport physics
- design methodology
- materials science
- PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute
of Technology, 2007
- MS, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of
- BS, Mechanical Engineering (High Honors),
University of California – Berkeley, 2002
- Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University
- Department of Mechanical Engineering, 8/2008-present. Hired in the areas of design and thermal
- National Academy of Engineering Center for the
Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) Postdoctoral
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Woodruff
Teaching Fellow, 2007
- Georgia Institute of Technology, NDSEG Fellow,
Courses and topics usually taught
- heat transfer
- thermodynamics I and II
- introduction to design
- design process
- advanced design (Innovative Design/Bio-Inspired
Courses taken for fun
- Principles of Biology
- Organic Chemistry I
- Organic Chemistry II
- Surface Analysis
- Problems in Biomedical Engineering
- Environmentally Conscious Design and
- Fundamental Biochemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry I
- Physical Chemistry I
Honors, awards, and professional activities
- 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
- 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)
- multidisciplinary collaboration
- applications of atomic force microscopy
- biomimetic design
- biomaterials characterization
- thermal characterization of battery performance
- micro/nanoscale thermal transport
- energy conservation
- 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).
- B.A. Nelson, C. Ciocanel, “Connecting
Experiment, Theory, and Physical Intuition in Heat Transfer With a Low-Cost
Solar Water Heater Design Project,” ASEE Annual Conference 2010, Louisville,
- J. Wilson, B.A. Nelson, D. Rosen, and J. Yen,
“The effects of biological examples in idea generation,” Design Studies, 31
- B.A. Nelson, J. Wilson, D. Rosen and J. Yen,
“Refined metrics for measuring ideation effectiveness,” Design Studies, 30
- B.A. Nelson, J.O. Wilson, J. Yen, “A Study of
Biologically-Inspired Design as a Context for Enhancing Student Innovation,”
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, “Modeling and Simulation
of the Interface Temperature Between a Heated Silicon Cantilever Tip and 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. Saxena, 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)
- B. A. Nelson, W. P. King, A. R. Laracuente, P.
E. Sheehan and L. J. Whitman, “Direct deposition of continuous metal
nanostructures by thermal dip-pen nanolithography,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 88
- 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.
- P. E. Sheehan, L. J. Whitman, W. P. King and B.
A. Nelson, “Nanoscale deposition of solid inks via thermal dip pen
nanolithography,” Appl. Phys. Lett., 85 (2004) 1589-1591.
- musical instruments (guitar, djembe, banjo,
- outdoor sport (hiking, backpacking,
- friends and family
- laughter and love
Science nerd t-shirts designed
Brownie in Motion (Joe Charest, Marcus Eliason, Fabian
Goericke, Brent Nelson, Harry Rowland)
Van Der Waals - Slightly Attractive (Joe Charest, Fabian
Goericke, Brent Nelson, Harry Rowland)