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Promoting Engineering Education Using a State-of-the-Art Research Facility

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Instrumentation Division Technical Session 2

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Grace Altimus Syracuse University

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Grace Altimus is the operator of the Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting Core Facility at Syracuse University. She is interested in the improvement of student educational experiences through the use of a shared resource facility.

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Dacheng Ren Syracuse University

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Dr. Dacheng Ren received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of Connecticut in 2003. After finishing postdoctoral training at Cornell University, he joined Syracuse University in 2006. Currently, he is an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and the Director of Chemical Engineering Graduate Program.

Dr. Ren received an Early Career Translational Research Award in Biomedical Engineering from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation in 2009 and a NSF CAREER award in 2011. He was named the College Technology Educator of the Year by the Technology Alliance of Central New York in 2010. Dr. Ren is also a recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award from the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University. Dr. Ren currently has 44 journal publications with over 2000 citations (h-index 24), 7 issued/pending patents and research supports from NSF, EPA, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and industrial sponsors. Dr. Ren has broad research interests in biotechnology and biofilm control.

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With the mission to solve problems, engineers have created numerous technologies, products, and infrastructures that have transformed our society by improving human life and saving the environment. In this new century, we have entered an even more exciting era with unprecedented opportunities for engineers to keep pushing the limit by finding new sources of renewable energy, seeking cures for previously untreatable diseases, and building systems with extremely high efficiency and accuracy. However, our engineering education in recent years has not been able to keep up with the pace to meet the demand of industries and global competition.

To transform engineering education, we developed new course modules and enhanced outreach activities using a state-of-the-art research facility. Specifically, we aimed to create synergy among teaching, research, and outreach using a core facility of flow cytometry funded through the MRI program of NSF. A high-end cell sorter and a flow cytometer were used to enhance teaching and outreach.

This facility was used in the junior class of Biological Principles for Engineers. A guest lecture was given by the facility operator to introduce the principles of flow cytometry and cell labeling; and a hands-on lab was designed to use the cell sorter to quantitatively follow bacterial horizontal gene transfer in a model system. These new modules allowed the students to learn cutting edge technologies at first hand and helped them understand not only the knowledge, but also the societal issues related to bacterial antibiotic resistance. The facility was also successfully used in a summer workshop to teach local K12 students and teachers modern biotechnology and advanced instrumentation. The details of the activities and outcomes will be presented.

Altimus, G., & Ren, D. (2016, June), Promoting Engineering Education Using a State-of-the-Art Research Facility Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25990

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