Undergraduate Laboratory for Molecular Engineering
Option | Courses
| Undergraduate Laboratory | Important
The Undergraduate Laboratory for Molecular Engineering is typically used for three advanced lab classes for undergraduates
in Chemical Engineering (ChE126,
ChE130) — one course each term.
In 2007 students used the Lab during the Summer for the first time
for Caltech's entry in
the 2007 iGEM competition.
This Laboratory is made possible through the
generous donations of Joyce and Ed McDowell (MS 60 ChE; PhD 64 ChE)
and Greg Stone (BS, MS 74 ChE). Construction started
during the summer of 2004 and the Laboratory was dedicated
on January 27, 2005.
eXperiment Swap (ChE126 formerly ChE 126a)
Season Premiere: October 1, 2007
We provide students with a very short description of each
project at the beginning of the five-week period. Based
on this short description, the group chooses a
specific objective. Test equipment
is already set-up and operational with manuals and design
documents available. Students have five weeks to research, design, interface, validate and test a
system that accomplishes that specific objective while considering
cost, time (30 hours of lab time), equipment availability,
group dynamics, ethics, and,
of course, the X-factor (Murphy's Law).
two projects during the ten-week Fall term.
At the end of each five-week period, each team member
submits a journal-quality written report and completes a
15-minute conference-style oral presentation.
new season premieres every Fall term.
The Ultimate Research
Challenge (ChE128 formerly ChE 126b)
Season Premiere: January 7, 2008
Each student is given a box of parts, access to
instruments, a general research area and technical support.
During the ten-week challenge each student must choose a
specific set of objectives, build a microhollow cathode
discharge plasma reactor, create a flow system, configure the
analytical instrument, test and calibrate all subsystems,
integrate the subsystems, validate and qualify the system,
design experiments, and produce & analyze results.
Students investigate objectives that are of current
interest in literature, providing an opportunity for the
students to publish results. Students are educated
about Statistical Design of Experiments and are encouraged
to use these techniques during the evaluation process.
During the term, students provide weekly oral progress
reports. Students write a mid-term report, which focuses on
the Introduction, Background and
Materials & Methods sections of the final report
and includes an Experimental Plan and Validation
Results. At the end of the term, each student submits a
journal-quality written report and completes a 30-minute
conference-style oral presentation.
new season premieres every Winter term.
|Recent Challenges |
||In-Situ Propellant Production on Mars: A Feasibility Study
|Destruction of Volatile Organic Compounds
(methylene chloride, p-xylene)
||Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Organic Compounds
||Detection of NaCl Nanoparticles
||Oxidative Conversion of Methane to
Season Premiere: March 31, 2008
During the first three weeks, all students complete
boot camp for biomolecular engineering. They learn the basic
tools and methods for success through laboratory and classroom
After completing boot camp, students embark on
different seven-week adventures. Each student must design a
genetic circuit & hypothesize likely system performance,
construct circuit components from a library of plasmids &
validate each element, and characterize system
During bio boot camp, students submit weekly written
reports for each module. During the adventure, students
provide weekly oral progress reports. Students write a
mid-term report, which focuses on Design and
Construction. At the end of the term, each student
submits a journal-quality, written report and completes a
30-minute conference-style oral presentation.
new season premieres every Spring term.
|Recent Adventures |