Artificial organs leading to real engineering learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014


Other121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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