(768d) Introducing Girls to Chemical Engineering Through Biomaterials for Drug Delivery | AIChE

(768d) Introducing Girls to Chemical Engineering Through Biomaterials for Drug Delivery


Champion, J. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Tech Women in Engineering Program hosts TEC camp for a week every summer. Designed to offer middle school girls an early introduction to the world of technology, engineering, and computing, TEC Camp inspires middle school age girls to consider college majors and careers in these important fields. The format is highly interactive and designed to address the specific interests of middle school students. The campers apply to the program and are selected based on an interest in science, but often have little knowledge of what engineers do. The girls rotate through hands-on modules such as web design, aerospace engineering, robotics, presentation skills, and chemical engineering. The goal is to get them excited about engineering so that they maintain their curiosity and effort in science classes at a time when many girls lose interest.

The chemical engineering module is designed to introduce the girls to biomaterials and drug delivery, brand new concepts to most of them. The campers spend one hour a day in the lab. The session starts with an interactive discussion on the scientific concepts and safety issues of the day’s activity. Then the girls work in pairs to complete their experiments, with help from the professor and graduate students. For example, the campers made their own polymeric drug delivery particles and investigated the ratio of polymer to crosslinker that generated particles with ideal properties. Then, they explored the concepts of saturation and crystallization by crystallizing their own “drugs”. Finally, the concepts were combined and the campers encapsulated the drugs in their particles and observed drug release and particle swelling phenomena. The campers kept notes of their experiments and observations and at the final banquet presented a skit about their activities. Exit surveys indicated that the campers learned new things from the module and most importantly, greatly improved their perception of chemical engineers and what chemical engineers do.