Asee peer logo

From Course Instruction to Bio-MakerSpace: Creating a Lab Space for Independent Investigation and Innovation

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies

Page Count

19

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32862

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32862

Download Count

160

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Sevile Mannickarottu University of Pennsylvania

visit author page

Sevile Mannickarottu is the Director of the Educational Laboratories in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Can an educational laboratory space in Biomedical Engineering or Bioengineering departments be used for both education as well as innovation? How can you encourage independent learning in laboratory course work while also providing an opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurship? In this paper, I will demonstrate how the Bioengineering educational laboratory and website at the University of Pennsylvania, along with its undergraduate laboratory curriculum, promotes independent learning by students and encourages innovation.

The laboratory itself houses equipment and supplies for work with electronics, microcontrollers, mechanical testing and rapid prototyping, chemistry and chemical analysis, human physiology, animal studies, and molecular/synthetic biology. From freshman year through junior year, students take lab classes where they are expected to find and learn how to use the necessary material by themselves. A website which maintains a full inventory of materials and their locations is provided, along with a full list of equipment with documentation. Equipment guides for lab courses are tied to the equipment on the website, rather than to the lab manual. Tutorials are also available on the website to quickly bring students up-to-speed with specific protocols and procedures, which are again, not part of the lab manual. Pre-lab exercises encourage students to come prepared to their lab session.

The laboratory classes are heavily project based, requiring students to access the laboratory outside of regular class hours. Consequently, the lab provides extended hours into the late evening and on weekends. In addition, because of the varied courses going on through the semester in the laboratory, permanent set-ups are not possible. Students must be able to put together experiments, debug issues, and take the experiments down by themselves. Faculty, lab staff, and teaching assistants act merely as guides, rather than traditional instructors.

This emphasis of the lab for all project-based work lends itself to becoming a hub for students to network, work on assignments outside of lab work, and use the lab for other extra-curricular activities. Since the laboratory moved to this configuration, it is being used by students developing projects for clubs, competitions, and quite regularly, start-up ventures. The ability to work on electronics, use rapid prototyping tools, as well as work in fume hoods and cell culture hoods, all within the same facility encourages a unique type of “making”. I will also provide additional thoughts on encouraging community within the lab. Student feedback to this laboratory model has been positive, especially in comparing this model to traditional educational laboratories, and to open lab spaces with less organization.

Mannickarottu, S. (2019, June), From Course Instruction to Bio-MakerSpace: Creating a Lab Space for Independent Investigation and Innovation Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32862

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015