Magazine article ASEE Prism

Nebojsa Jaksic: Teacher and Inventor

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Nebojsa Jaksic: Teacher and Inventor

Article excerpt

I t's characteristic of Nebojsa Jaksic that his patented method for making carbon nanotubes sprang from a class he was teaching at Colorado State University, Pueblo, where he is a professor of engineering. Back in 2007, he was explaining the workings of an electric discharge machine in a manufacturing processes course when, like "a little spark," it occurred to him that the same machine could be used to produce nanotubes.

In Jaksic's telling, there's scarcely a line between teaching and invention. A strong believer in learning through experimentation, he joins students in discovery. "Sometimes you do the normal stuff and say, ?What if... ?"' His field, industrial and systems engineering, lends itself to exploring new ways of teaching, with new tools, to meet emerging industry needs. When he found, for example, that few textbooks adequately covered linear motors, used increasingly by high-tech firms, he went on eBay to find a linear stepper motor, an ironless motor, and a drive/controller for less than $850 and developed a combination lecture and lab module for a third-year mechatronics course. And when his students needed sophisticated robotics software and sensors for a senior-level design course, he built an experiment around "a remarkable and inexpensive set of sensors" found in Kinect for Xbox 360, a robotics starter kit, and a miniature PC.

Jaksic's own fascination with robotics developed from reading science fiction while growing up in the Kosovo province of the former Yugoslavia. …

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