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Full class loads and inflexible schedules can be a significant obstacle in the implementation of freshman survey courses designed to guide engineering students into emerging research areas such as micro- and nanosystems. A hands-on, interactive course was developed to excite freshmen early in their engineering program to pursue research and careers in microsystems. The course focused on the top-down and bottom-up approaches to building devices, including the metrology tools required for visualization and characterization at the micro- and nanoscales. Modular lab components required students to interact with, build, and characterize microsystems. Macroscale versions were used to teach microscale concepts. An introductory module included dissecting the iPod Mp3 player, understanding its macroscale components and inspecting the microscale components in optical and scanning electron microscopes (SEM). A summary of the class focus and lab exercise modules is reported.