Teaching stories

We teach to develop intuition, “unlock” creativity and bring the best out of students and ourselves 

Prof. Huang has taught a number of undergraduate courses, including MSE201 (introductory materials science and engineering course for non-majors), MSE301 (introductory materials science and engineering course for majors, with lab components), MSE331 (soft materials), MSE337 (conducting polymers, with DIY lab component) and MSE380 (surface science and analysis, with lab component). In some of these classes, students are encouraged and mentored to develop their own innovative projects. The best ideas are usually generated when they connect the concepts in the course with a piece of their own personal experience. Some of their works are featured in Prof. Huang’s YouTube channel “NanoEducation“. These videos don’t just showcase Northwestern students’ accomplishments, they also inspire students and teachers elsewhere to do similar projects.

Some of the earlier activities were supported by a grant from the Alumnae of Northwestern University in 2015-2016.

Some news and stories about students in Prof. Huang’s classes

  • Northwestern Engineering students awarded for class project
    • Daniel Hickox-Young and Luke Prestowitz’s “PolySketch” pen propelled them to the NSF-KAUST DIY Electronics Innovation Challenge, an international contest to encourage creative and inexpensive electronics.
    • “… they made electronics ‘cool’ to these kids. You could see it on their faces and from their questions afterwards…”


  • MSE331 project “Materials choice for disposable utensils”
    • Have you noticed that disposable chopsticks are usually made of wood or bamboo, while forks and spoons are always plastic? Why is that?
    • A team of MSE331 (Winter 2016) students set out to find out why.
    • And to every viewer: What do you think?


  • MSE337 video report “Polyaniline Touch Gloves” cited in Journal of Chemical Education
    • Prof. Nedal Y. Abu-Thabit at Jubail Industrial College in Saudi Arabia reported a student project of polyaniline coated touch gloves in Journal of Chemical Education. Ruochen Nan and Vicky Zhang’s video report of their MSE337 DIY project (Winter 2013) is cited. Congratulations to Prof. Abu-Thabit!