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Artificial Organs Leading to Real Engineering Learning [Work-in-Progress]
2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2014)
  • Mary M. Staehle, Rowan University
  • Tom Merrill, Rowan University
  • Stephanie Farrell, Rowan University
Examined at a holistic level, the human body is composed of unit operations maintaining
a steady state known as homeostasis. Many of these unit operations have engineering
analogs. These parallels are explored readily for pedagogical purposes, either as novel
problems or as hands-on tools for enhancing conceptual knowledge. In this paper, we
present two strategies for using the study of artificial organs in chemical engineering
courses at Rowan University.
The first strategy promotes self-guided discovery and design through a semester-long
project. This strategy has been implemented into a graduate and senior level elective
course called Biomedical Engineering Processes at Rowan University. In the beginning
of the semester, each student group selects an existing artificial organ. Students are then
challenged to research the organ paying attention to the engineering aspects needed to
create the organ artificially, and to propose an innovative design to address at least one of
the outstanding challenges. These projects provide opportunities for open-ended problem
solving, collaborative learning and design, and the application of chemical engineering
principles to novel problems. This paper describes the project, sample student solutions,
and student feedback.
The second strategy involves the development of laboratory experiments that mimic
artificial organs in order to reinforce engineering principles. Faculty at Rowan
University are developing a set of modules focusing on various artificial organs. In this
paper, we highlight the work on the thermoregulatory properties of artificial skin.
Human skin contains incredible networks of microcapillaries that, in addition to
delivering nutrients, enhance heat exchange between the body core and the environment
as a result of increased surface area. In this work, we have created an artificial
microcapillary network by encapsulating cotton candy in an elastomer. We are currently
adapting this as a laboratory exercise where students will investigate conductive and
convective heat transfer in this networked path. The objective of this laboratory activity
will be to reinforce the importance of heat transfer surface area. In this paper, we present
the laboratory activity and our plans for adapting the activity in engineering courses at
Rowan University.
Publication Date
June 15, 2014
Indianapolis, IN, USA
Citation Information
Mary M. Staehle, Tom Merrill and Stephanie Farrell. "Artificial Organs Leading to Real Engineering Learning [Work-in-Progress]" 2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2014)
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