Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Reviving a Transport Phenomena Course by Incorporating Simulation and Laboratory Experiences

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Marcia Pool University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Dr. Marcia Pool is a Lecturer in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her career, Marcia has been active in improving undergraduate education through developing problem-based laboratories to enhance experimental design skills; developing a preliminary design course focused on problem identification and market space (based on an industry partner’s protocol); and mentoring and guiding student teams through the senior design capstone course and a translational course following senior design. To promote biomedical/bioengineering, Marcia works with Women in Engineering to offer outreach activities and is engaged at the national level as Executive Director of the biomedical engineering honor society, Alpha Eta Mu Beta.

visit author page


Rohit Bhargava University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Rohit Bhargava is Bliss Faculty Scholar of Engineering and Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a faculty member with affiliations in several departments across campus (Primary – Bioengineering: Affiliated - Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Science and Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry) as well as the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Rohit received dual B.Tech. degrees (in Chemical Engineering and Polymer Science and Engineering) from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi in 1996 and his doctoral thesis work at Case Western Reserve University (Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering) was in the area of polymer spectroscopy. He then worked as a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (2000-2005) in the area of biomedical vibrational spectroscopy. Rohit has been at Illinois since as Assistant Professor (2005-2011), Associate Professor (2011-2012) and Professor (2012-). Rohit was the first assistant professor hired into the new Bioengineering department and played a key role in the development of its curriculum and activities. He later founded and serves as the coordinator of the Cancer Community@Illinois, a group dedicated to advancing cancer-related research and scholarship on campus. Research in the Bhargava laboratories focuses on fundamental theory and simulation for vibrational spectroscopic imaging, developing new instrumentation and developing chemical imaging for molecular pathology. Using 3D printing and engineered tumor models, recent research seeks to elucidate hetero-cellular interactions in cancer progression. Rohit’s work has been recognized with several research awards nationally. Among recent honors are the Meggers Award (Society for applied spectroscopy, 2014), Craver Award (Coblentz Society, 2013) and the FACSS Innovation Award (2012). Rohit has also been recognized for his dedication to teaching in the College of Engineering (Rose and Everitt awards) and he is routinely nominated to the list of teachers ranked excellent at Illinois.

visit author page


Paul A. Jensen University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Paul Jensen is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Bioengineering and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.  He received bachelor degrees in chemical and biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia. Paul completed postdoctoral training at Boston College before joining the University of Illinois in 2016.

visit author page


Karin Jensen University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Karin Jensen is a Lecturer in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At UIUC she teaches undergraduate courses and serves as an academic advisor. Before joining UIUC she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Sanofi Oncology in Cambridge, MA. She earned a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Modeling is a powerful technique for engineers to determine the best parameters to use in a design, and in many fields, even at the undergraduate level, modeling has greatly advanced with the use of simulation software. However, many biomedical transport courses continue to be taught in a traditional, lecture-based format without the use of simulation. Since much of the class materials are derived from such profound advances in early-mid decades of the 20th century as well as availability of comprehensive textbooks (such as by Bird, Stewart, and Lightfoot), instructors have often continued to cover “classical” problems and methods in teaching transport phenomena. The teaching format usually consists of thorough analytical analysis and application of mathematics to gain insight into physical phenomena. This format is neither engaging students nor does it reflect how specific, real-world biomedical transport problems are solved. As educators, we need to re-evaluate our traditional teaching of transport to reflect what students will encounter in their careers, instill the use of modeling as a precursor to design, and promote a deeper understanding of transport concepts by allowing students to model, visualize, and solve more complex biomedical problems.

While simulations are effective to determine the best parameters for a design, hands-on preparation and testing of the design moves students further in the design cycle and allows students to compare experimental results with simulation. We envision a change in the philosophy of teaching transport phenomena – as opposed to a skill set gained for application to complex problems; we propose to model and visualize complex multi-phenomena problems as a teaching tool. This approach will not only provide students a sense of magnitude and “feel” for the phenomena but will also encourage exploration of large parameter spaces to augment their experience. Further, we view the course as a critical bridge from early departmental courses to senior design. Comparisons between experiment and simulation will increase student understanding of simulation to guide the design process but also introduce the limitations of simulations. In addition, students will gain more experience in designing experiments, using laboratory equipment, and analyzing and interpreting data.

To better engage our students and further develop their engineering design skills, we redesigned a lecture-based biomedical transport course into a problem-based learning course that combines lecture, simulation, and experimental components. For the pilot offering, approximately sixty, junior-level bioengineering students will be enrolled (spring 2016) and divided into teams of three to four students. Lectures will (1) provide foundational knowledge and motivate the use of transport principles to solve biomedical problems, (2) explain the problem formulation and software implementation, and (3) discuss how transport processes are modeled and tested in a laboratory experiment. Students will be trained on the simulation software before completing three modules each with a simulation and experimental component (dialysis, diffusion in a gel, and microfluidics) with the culmination of the course being a team project. While students will need to learn the simulation software, they will apply laboratory skills developed in earlier coursework. Through this redefined structure, we introduce students to new material, train students on new software, and increase student understanding and application of previously-learned laboratory techniques to further develop engineering team and design skills.

Pool, M., & Bhargava, R., & Jensen, P. A., & Jensen, K. (2016, June), Work in Progress: Reviving a Transport Phenomena Course by Incorporating Simulation and Laboratory Experiences Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27030

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: © 2016 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