Competition between student groups in the protein production challenge

Brian G. Lefebvre, Loren E. Connell, Kevin D. Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Converting biological discoveries into commercial-scale processes requires that graduating chemical engineers obtain an understanding of modern bioprocess principles. This paper describes the development and implementation of a 5-week long protein production project into a multidisciplinary upper level elective course on bioprocess engineering. The protein production project was developed and implemented during the Fall 2006 semester and repeated during the Fall 2007 semester. A key element of the protein production project was the competition between student groups. Group performance was rated using a production rubric, and the team with the highest score was guaranteed an "A" on the project. The rubric included equipment rental costs and production bonuses for producing large quantities of protein of high purity. The equipment rental costs were carefully determined to encourage continued student experimentation in the laboratory. The competitive nature of the project captures students driven by achievement or instrumental types of motivation, which are not necessarily engaged by traditional problem-solving homework assignments. Final exam results for the course with the protein production challenge were compared to previous course offerings which used a literature review project, in an attempt to evaluate the impact of the project on student performance. No statistically significant conclusions could be drawn but the results suggested that the protein production challenge was at least as effective as the previous project. In addition, the course evaluation survey showed the protein production challenge was the single most popular aspect of the course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1-e8
JournalEducation for Chemical Engineers
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Chemical Engineering


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