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Microfluidics @ the Beach: Introduction of Microfluidics Technology to the Chemical Engineering Curriculum at CSULB

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Emerging Areas: Biotechnology, Microtechnology, and Energy

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1062.1 - 22.1062.7

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Paper Authors


Thuyoanh Truong California State Universtiy, Long Beach, Department of Chemical Engineering

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Thuyoanh Truong is pursuing her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from California State University, Long Beach. Her research interest focuses on microfluidics for fuel cells, and chemical and biological assays.

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William Ferguson Department of Chemical Engineering, California State University, Long Beach

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William Ferguson received his B.S. in Biomedical/Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing his M.S. in Chemical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach. His research interests include microfluidics for organic synthesis, chemical and biological assays and fuel cells.

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Roger C. Lo California State University, Long Beach, Department of Chemical Engineering

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Roger C. Lo is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach. He received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in May 2008. Roger teaches undergraduate and graduate required courses (fluids, math, and transport phenomena) and also numerical analysis using Excel and MATLAB for chemical engineering calculations. Roger's research interest focuses on microfluidics and its applications to solving chemical and biological problems, such as fuel cells, microreactors, and high-throughput chemical/biological assays.

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Introduction of Microfluidics Technology to the Chemical Engineering Curriculum at _____ObjectiveTo develop a series of new elective courses on microfluidics for senior and first-year graduatestudents at _____ to expose them to this exciting field of study and to provide them workingknowledge to get involved in this area.AbstractMicrofluidics technology involves the study of the behavior of fluids at microscale, fluidmanipulations, and the design of the devices that can effectively perform such manipulations. Ithas been widely applied to the miniaturization of analytical methods and chemical and biologicalprocesses because of its many advantages, such as significant reduction in analysis time, muchlower sample and reagent consumption (in the nanoliter range or less), and enhanced systemperformance and functionality by integrating different components onto microfluidic devices.These applications are usually called micro total analysis systems (µTAS) or lab on a chip(LOC). Since its debut in the 90s, microfluidics technology has made significant progress andgradually moved from pure research projects to commercialized products, such as AgilentTechnologies’ 2100 Bioanalyzer for biomolecule analysis, Caliper Life Sciences’ LabChipsystems for biomolecule analysis and drug discovery, and Fluidigm Corporation’s BioMarksystem for real time PCR.We notice that from the microfluidics technology industry (especially in California) there is aneed for chemical engineers with related skills, such as microfluidic chip design,microfabrication, optical imaging, and programming languages for instrument control and dataanalysis. However, our current curriculum does not provide our students training for these skills.To address this, we initiated this course development project for two new elective courses,Introduction to Microfabrication and microfluidics Technology and Microfluidics Technologyand Its Applications, along with corresponding hands-on lab sessions. In the first course, thefundamentals of microfluidics, chip design, and microfabrication techniques are introduced inboth class lectures and related readings. In the lab sessions, students will actually go to ourresearch laboratory to design and fabricate microfluidic chips using soft lithography. In thesecond course, the applications of microfluidics technology, e.g., in chemistry, engineering, andbiotechnology, are introduced through class lectures and journal paper readings. In the labsession, students will perform experiments on their microfluidic chips, such as DNAelectrophoresis, mixing, organic synthesis, and fuel cell reactions, to get familiar with fluidmanipulations, proper calibration of detectors, and data analysis. They will also learn how to useprogramming languages, e.g., MATLAB, and software packages, e.g., ImageJ, to processnumerical and image data.In this project, undergraduate and graduate students are involved in the design of the labsessions. They help convert the experiments in our ongoing research projects into the onessuitable for teaching by actually performing them and revising the protocol to fit our class needs.Through this project, the students obtain not only the working knowledge of microfluidicstechnology, but also the communication skills required for effective technical informationexchange.

Truong, T., & Ferguson, W., & Lo, R. C. (2011, June), Microfluidics @ the Beach: Introduction of Microfluidics Technology to the Chemical Engineering Curriculum at CSULB Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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