This paper describes a program initiated to promote interdisciplinary undergraduate research at Wentworth Institute of Technology through a shared interest across many areas of study, i.e., the measurement of trace metals in environmental and other matrices. In the context of this program, “trace metals” refers to levels in the part per million (and below) concentration range. The identification, measurement and control of trace metals in environmental and other media (including soil, water, electronics, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, food, art supplies, etc.) is a concern when public health and safety, QA/QC and/or materials performance is affected. While individual interests in trace metals vary widely based on the metal(s) of interest, concentration range and matrix of concern (solid, liquid or air), the fundamental methods of analyzing metals are frequently very similar. In this program, students and faculty from multiple disciplines learn principles and methods of metals analysis and work together on a wide range of trace metal research projects. The program is being conducted with support from a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant. This paper both summarizes the projects conducted and describes the challenges and opportunities experienced over the course of the program with the intent of exchanging ideas and successful approaches to collaborative interdisciplinary undergraduate research. (NSF Award Number: 1531534; Project Title: MRI: Acquisition of Atomic Absorption Spectrometer for EPIC Learning)
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