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Artificial Organs Leading to Real Engineering Learning [Work-in-Progress]

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Improving Laboratory Education in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.198.1 - 24.198.9

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Paper Authors


Mary M. Staehle Rowan University

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Dr. Mary Staehle is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University. Before joining the faculty at Rowan in 2010, Dr. Staehle worked at the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology at Thomas Jefferson University and received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. Her research is in the area of biological control systems, specifically neural regeneration. Dr. Staehle is also particularly interested in chemical, bio-, and biomedical engineering education.

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Tom Merrill Rowan University


Stephanie Farrell Rowan University

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Dr. Stephanie Farrell is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University (USA). She obtained her PhD in Chemical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1996. Prior to joining the faculty at Rowan in 1998, she was an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Louisiana Tech University until 1998. Dr. Farrell has made contributions to engineering education through her work in experiential learning, focusing on areas of pharmaceutical, biomedical and food engineering. She has been honored by the American Society of Engineering Education with several teaching awards such as the 2004 National Outstanding Teaching Medal and the 2005 Quinn Award for experiential learning.

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Artificial Organs Leading to Real Engineering Learning [Work-in-Progress]Examined at a holistic level, the human body is composed of unit operations maintaininga steady state known as homeostasis. Many of these unit operations have engineeringanalogs. These parallels are explored readily for pedagogical purposes, either as novelproblems or as hands-on tools for enhancing conceptual knowledge. In this paper, wepresent two strategies for using the study of artificial organs in chemical engineeringcourses at XXXX University.The first strategy promotes self-guided discovery and design through a semester-longproject. This strategy has been implemented into a graduate and senior level electivecourse at XXXX University. In the beginning of the semester, each student group selectsan existing artificial organ. Students are then challenged to research the organ payingattention to the engineering aspects needed to create the organ artificially, and to proposean innovative design to address at least one of the outstanding challenges. These projectsprovide opportunities for open-ended problem solving, collaborative learning and design,and the application of chemical engineering principles to novel problems. This paperdescribes the project, sample student solutions, and student feedback.The second strategy involves the development of laboratory experiments that mimicartificial organs in order to reinforce engineering principles. Faculty at XXXXUniversity are developing a set of modules focusing on various artificial organs. In thispaper, we highlight the work on the thermoregulatory properties of artificial skin.Human skin contains incredible networks of microcapillaries that, in addition todelivering nutrients, enhance heat exchange between the body core and the environmentas a result of increased surface area. In this work, we have created an artificialmicrocapillary network by encapsulating cotton candy in an elastomer. We are currentlyadapting this as a laboratory exercise where students will investigate conductive andconvective heat transfer in this networked path. The objective of this laboratory activityis to reinforce the importance of heat transfer surface area. In this paper, we present thelaboratory activity and our progress in adapting the activity in chemical and mechanicalengineering heat transfer courses.

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