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Challenge Based Learning In Biomedical Engineering: A Legacy Cycle For Biotechnology

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.265.1 - 6.265.7



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Paper Authors

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Todd Giorgio

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Sean P. Brophy

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1609

Challenge-Based Learning in Biomedical Engineering: A Legacy Cycle for Biotechnology Giorgio TD, Brophy SP Vanderbilt University


The benefits of a challenge-based environment are recognized by experts in learning science but are infrequently translated to practice in engineering courses. Although individual instructor styles occasionally offer challenge-based instruction, rare is the engineering course in which challenge-based learning is a consistent focus. Few systematic methods for the creation of challenge-based learning materials exist, presenting an obstacle to adoption of this powerful educational technique.

We describe the development and implementation of a challenge-based learning mosaic for biotechnology based on three coupled Legacy Cycle (LC) modules. LCs are templates for challenge-based instruction that use a convenient PowerPoint platform for development and distribution. Learning scientists and biotechnology domain experts worked together to: • identify the broad (mosaic-level) challenge • distill three specific (module-level) challenges from the broad challenge • create materials supporting the creation of three challenge-based LCs • refine the LCs using analysis from domain experts • conduct a preliminary assessment of the LCs on biotechnology novices • apply the LCs in BME 281: Biotechnology at Vanderbilt University • assess the impact of challenge-based LCs on learner capabilities

The initial LC within the mosaic was based on qualitative observations of mammalian cell culture bioreactor design and operation. Subsequent LCs examined the quantitative aspects of mass and momentum transfer in bioreactors. The biological properties of mammalian cells were integrated with the engineering principles into the overall challenge to produce sufficient recombinant protein for formulation as a pharmaceutical agent suitable for commercial distribution.


As an area of science, biotechnology is a combination of advances in our understanding of molecular and cellular biology applied to plant, animal and human genetics. Biotechnology advances are applied to manufacturing processes for use in health care, food and agriculture, industrial processes and environmental cleanup, among other applications. Engineering plays an increasingly important role in the development and practical application of biotechnology principles. A new biotechnology course, designed for fourth-year undergraduate and graduate

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Giorgio, T., & Brophy, S. P. (2001, June), Challenge Based Learning In Biomedical Engineering: A Legacy Cycle For Biotechnology Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8990

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