For my class in Cardiovascular Engineering I, we were able to select a research project during the course of the semester. The class is called a discovery based learning class with a reverse classroom. We were able to learn cardiovascular engineering concepts out of class while having intelligent discussions of higher level questions in class. We also then had a main research project that the class is based around. I selected a project dealing with microfluidic cell printing. I then was able to create my own learning objectives for the semester based on what I wanted to learn through this research. These will be explained in later sections.
Our research is based off the works of our advisor Dr. Amanda Brooks who has published several papers in conjunction with Dr. Benjamin Brooks on the topic on cell printing. Our group was a multidisciplinary team comprised of two electrical engineering students, a civil engineering student, and a biomedical masters student with an undergrad degree in mechanical engineering. This provided us with interesting insights into the project from different points of view. For example, I had never 3D modeled before, so I taught myself Solidworks through tutorials. John-Luke, our mechanical/biomedical engineer, taught me about tolerancing and efficiently using resources to reduce materials used while keeping structural strength.
There are multiple strengths of the discovery based learning system. First and foremost, there is no need to spend time in class learning things that don't pertain to what you would like to learn. In this way, one can get a large benefit if they put the time in. I have learned a lot about the cardiovascular system as we were given all of the resources needed to learn and have useful class discussions. Discovery based learning also teaches one to analyze one's own learning style. For instance, I do not learn well with textbook-based lecture and reading. Personally, hands on problem solving, video or in-person walkthroughs, and more visual or picture-based learning is how I learn most efficiently.
This is one of the MG-63 cell cultures that we developed as it is at approximately 80% confluency and it is time for the culture to be split.
With the copyrighted microfluidic cell printhead, we didn't have all the inlet and outlets mapped as we couldn't get the design or model. Our group had to determine where to put the tubes on the printhead to distribute fluid.
This sad excuse for a stand was a huge waste of resin, but it was the first 3D print that I have done.
Once we learned a bit more about intelligent design, we were able to create a better model.
When we printed this, the bottom didn't get cured properly, so it was rough and had to be UV cured in the sun for a day.
Cell culturing was one of my primary learning objective. I had never dealt with any sort of organic lab setting. I had to learn sterile lab techniques, proper cleaning, and other procedures needed to work with cells in a lab. I also learned how to cultivate osteoblasts, operate a centrifuge, and use different analog and electrical microscopes. I was also able to perform my own experiments involving keeping cell cultures alive in a three dimensional environment which were successful to a degree.