Interdisciplinary Learning via Real world Problems: the Agonies and Ecstasies of the UMass iCons Program by Professor Scott Auerbach

​​FAFS, in collaboration with MSFEA, organized a public lecture entitled ‘Interdisciplinary Learning via Real World Problems: The Agonies and Ecstasies of the UMass iCons Program’ by Dr. Scott Auerbach on May 14, 2018 at the Michel and Sherine Bayoud Lecture Hall at FAFS.

Dr. Auerbach is full professor of physical and computational chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), USA. He is the founding director of the UMass Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) Program, bringing together undergraduates in science and engineering to work on real-world problems in biomedicine and energy. In 2016, Dr. Auerbach won the inaugural Manning Prize for Teaching Excellence for his work in interdisciplinary education. His research is on modeling the behavior and self-assembly of nanostructured materials and catalysts such as zeolites for emerging renewable energy technologies including biofuels and fuel cells. He is author/co-author of 2 books and over 110 peer-reviewed articles and has won several research awards including an NSF Career Award, a Sloan Fellowship, and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.  

The lecture focused on how to train the future generation of scientists and engineers to tackle the difficult challenges facing our society today. The iCons Program at UMass Amherst offers a unique approach that allows students to retain their disciplinary training while honing the necessary attitudes, knowledge, and skills to work in multidisciplinary teams on real world problems in Biomedicine and Renewable Energy fields. This is achieved through a four-year program of case studies, lab work, and research in which collaboration and creative thinking are encouraged along with applying content mastery. In his presentation, Dr. Auerbach shared his experience leading and developing the nationally recognized iCons program and aimed to stimulate a realistic and optimistic discussion on how to apply student‐driven learning and reflection within the programs of AUB. This lecture was coordinated by Dr. Yaser Abunnasr from the LDEM department at FAFS. ​