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Nsf Ccli: A Problem Based Microfluidics Laboratory Course For Undergraduates

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1112.1 - 12.1112.8



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Paper Authors


Ian Papautsky University of Cincinnati

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IAN PAPAUTSKY received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Utah in 1999. He is currently a tenured Associate Professor of in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. His research and teaching interests include application of MEMS and microfluidics to biology and medicine.

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Ali Asgar Bhagat University of Cincinnati

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ALI ASGAR S. BHAGAT received his M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2006, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. His research interests include microfluidics and MEMS devices for chemical and biological assays. He was the teaching assistant for the Biochip Laboratory course discussed in this paper.

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

NSF CCLI: A Problem-Based Microfluidics Laboratory Course for Undergraduates


In the past decade, microfabrication (MEMS) and behavior of fluids on the microscale (microfluidics) have transformed many areas of engineering and applied sciences. Yet little has been done to transfer the microfluidics research to the undergraduate curricula. To address this need, using support from a NSF CCLI award we are developing a new undergraduate laboratory course at the University of Cincinnati to introduce students to microfluidics and biochip development. The iterative nature of the course directly addresses several components of undergraduate STEM education and follows the cyclic model for knowledge generation and improvement. To assess educational impact of the course, both short-term outcomes, such as individual laboratory experiences, and long-term outcomes, such as increased student knowledge, are used. The initial success of our course is encouraging, and suggests that the developed format can be disseminated to other universities.


Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) miniaturization technologies are important to life sciences because they have a potential of yielding small, cost effective, disposable, rapid sensor systems for point-of-care (POC) medical diagnosis and in situ environmental monitoring. For example, microorganisms must be monitored in the environment because they can present a threat to public health (e.g., drinking water quality) or effective biocatalysts for treating pollution (e.g., bioremediation). The main difficulty with such field-based monitoring is that many available tools are lab-based and are not suitable for operations in the field, are cost-prohibitive, or are time-consuming.

Microfluidics is a branch of physics and biotechnology that studies the behavior of fluids at the microscale and the design of MEMS that take advantage of such behavior. The behavior of fluids at these small scales can differ from macroscale fluidic behavior, as factors such as surface tension, energy dissipation, inertia, and electrokinetics begin to dominate. Microfluidics has enabled manipulation and detection of nanoliter and even picoliter fluid samples. The behavior of such systems has been extensively investigated and explored in so-called lab-on-a-chip (LOC) systems.1,2

In the past decade, microfluidics has transformed many areas of the applied sciences, such as medicine, pharmaceutical research, and analytical chemistry. However, little has been done to transfer the microfluidics research to the undergraduate curricula. At the University of Cincinnati we are integrating state-of-the-art research in microfluidics within our undergraduate

Papautsky, I., & Bhagat, A. A. (2007, June), Nsf Ccli: A Problem Based Microfluidics Laboratory Course For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2821

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