CIRE (Community-, Industry-, Research-, and Entrepreneurship-based) Design Challenges


CIRE Design Challenges

CIRE Design Challenges will be threaded through the curriculum to engage students in professional practice. The variety of projects will expose all students to a diverse set of potential career options. The aim is to develop inclusive, team-based, deeply meaningful learning experiences that feature critical thinking, problem-solving, and design. The CIRE challenges will be highly relevant to rural, Latino/a, and Native American students as they will focus on needs important to their communities and cultures, bridging the gap between engineering and the identities of underrepresented groups by engaging these students in ways not previously attempted.

CBE 418L: Chemical Engineering Laboratory III

Distillation design challenge to make hand sanitizer

CBE 302: Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics

Design challenge to transport vaccines

CBE 251: Chemical Process Calculations

Mask design challenge.

CBE 101: Introduction to Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering

Challenge 1: Why Chem E Challenge
This community-related challenge introduces students to the scope of the chemical engineering profession. Chemical Engineering students work in teams to research and interview an alumnus, faculty member, graduate student, or industry professional to learn more about their career. Students explore potential chemical engineering careers and pathways with an emphasis on the mindset and educational experiences that will make them competitive. They produce a promotional brochure that the UNM CBE Department can use to attract new students to the field of chemical engineering.

Challenge 2: Antimicrobials
This prototypical entrepreneurial challenge exposes students to the product applications of current research performed by Prof. David Whitten’s laboratory at UNM. His newly developed OPEs (Oligo phenylene ethynelenes) are polymers with remarkable antimicrobial resistance. Students present ideas and proposed applications of OPEs as antimicrobial surface coatings and homogenous embeddings within products. Students present 10 minute pitches to their peers, faculty, and industry/academic professionals on applications ranging from toilet seats to money counting machines.

Challenge 3: Bioshipping Challenge
This industry-based challenge revolves around the applications developed by UNM alumnus Dr. Doug Smith and his company NanoPore. This design challenge began as a project where students develop innovative methods for shipping biological samples within tight temperature tolerances. The project evolved the following semester to include a laboratory aspect. Students apply evaporative cooling and alternate temperature control methods to real-life product applications, learning aspects of heat transfer firsthand.

Challenge 4: Evaporative Cooling Challenge
This industry-based challenge involves student experimentation in developing a self-cooling water bottle using evaporative cooling heat transfer. The students worked for three weeks in the undergraduate Unit Operations Laboratory applying an iterative method to identify the lowest achievable water bottle temperature under various design conditions. This project allows students to apply basic heat transfer and thermodynamics principles to design a solution for an important everyday challenge.

Challenge 5: Acid Mine Drainage Challenge
This community-based challenge focuses on the difficulties posed to communities in Northern New Mexico and Southwestern Colorado which are downstream of potentially hazardous abandoned mines. One such mine sustained a significant release of contaminated water, resulting in discoloration of rivers, and causing hardship within Native American and Hispanic farming communities downstream. The work of Research Professors Jose Cerrato and Adrian Brearley help inform the students on the nature of the contamination from these mines. Students are tasked with assessing and characterizing water contamination of these mines and developing solutions for its remediation.

CBE 251: Material and Energy Balances

Challenge: Algal Biofuels
This community-, industry-, and research-based challenge within the Sophomore Material and Energy Balances course focuses on developing an algal biofuel process. Students designing the growth phase process choose a community where critical growth requirements such as carbon dioxide supply, type and density of culture, water supply, and exposure to light can be met. Students designing the Harvesting process focus on optimizing the separation of algae from its growth medium. Lastly, students designing the Extraction process choose either mechanical or chemical methods based on handling and chemical safety. All three phases prompt students to link knowledge gained from the design challenge to the disciplinary course content by way of numerous deliverables.

CBE 311: Fluids and Heat Transfer

Challenge: Kirtland Air Force Base Jet Fuel Spill
This community-based design challenge for Junior-level Transport Phenomena students involves the characterization and mitigation of the jet fuel spill first detected in 1999 on the Kirtland Air Force Base grounds in Albuquerque, NM. This spill resulted in great alarm, mobilizing the Air Force Base, citizens, and local government to proactively evaluate and remediate. In this project, students design solutions for the engineering challenges of containment of a spill, remediation of ethylene dibromide-contaminated water, storage tank design, and effective, corrosion-resistant contaminant detection.

CBE 321: Mass Transfer and Separations

Challenge: Distillation Design Challenge
This distillation design challenge involves developing a consumer product, such as a beverage, using chemical engineering separations concepts and applications. This design challenge includes an in-class activity worksheet and four brainstorming worksheets where students are guided in defining the problem, designing a solution, developing a technical design, writing a technical design report, and presenting a product pitch. To supplement the design challenge, students explore three new hands-on in-class activities which include prediction, observation, and reflection of random walk and diffusion, convective mass transfer, and interfacial mass transfer concepts. The ideas for implementing these in-class activities came from the thermodynamics faculty development workshop presented by guest speaker Prof. Margo Vigeant.

CBE 361: Biomolecular Engineering

Background: This course had been completely revised by faculty from lecture- and exam-based to a Biomolecular Engineering design project-based course. This course dovetailed principles of biological systems to the design of biochemical and biomaterial solutions.

Challenge 1: Atypical Cell Detection
This design challenge involved students designing a system to detect atypical cells, such as lung cancer cells, using molecular diagnostics and flow cytometry. The design project involved students selecting the best detection technology from a set of potential technologies, where the goal was to detect a type of cancer using the most effective technology. The students had to report why they chose the technology they used and also why the other technologies would not be as effective.

Challenge 2: Drug Delivery
The second design challenge involved student design of a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system. Students worked in teams of 6 to design and “test” a viable nanoparticle carrier to enable CRISPR gene editing in vivo for treatment of cancer (prostate, breast, brain, or leukemia). Students designed a new nanocarrier to deliver a drug via intravenous injection to a cell or tissue to treat cancer. Groups wrote a 5-page paper justifying their design and documenting synthesis and characterization procedures.

Challenge 3: Microbial Fuel Cells
The third design challenge involved student design of microbial fuel cells. The focus was on microbiological reactors for energy, synthesis, and remediation using authentic constraints and prototyping. Students had access to a 3D printer, welding, woodworking, and laser etch tools, as well as supplemental courses on how to use these tools.

CBE 515/499/BME 598: Engineering for Global Health

Background: This mixed undergraduate-graduate elective course embraced team and collaborative learning through a series of design challenges. These design challenges represented the core of the course and was the means of learning and reinforcing key concepts in global health and bioengineering.

Challenge 1: Fix that thing
To introduce design notions of empathy and constraint, this mini-challenge involves students fixing everyday items with the moldable glue, Sugru. Students fixed their broken or torn personal items with this putty-like, flexible, waterproof glue.

Challenge 2: Packing for Puerto Rico
Students work in groups to select and pack targeted, cost-effective relief aid items for Puerto Rico hurricane victims. Given a set amount of money, students selected the most important items for shipment to hurricane victims. The instructor purchased these items, students packed them, and items were distributed to housing unit residents.

Challenge 3: Herd immunity challenge
In this design challenge, students research their inoculation records and compare it with their classmates to determine and quantify their own immunity risk and the risk of their classmates.

Challenge 4: Bench to Bedside
This final project focuses on the process of solving a global health problem and the process of product discovery to an engineered product or idea. Students approach these projects with the aim of addressing the most pressing global health issues by applying the simplest, most viable, and most affordable solutions and/or products. Student work in teams to choose a specific, underdeveloped country and common health issue. With a budget of $25, they design a device that could dramatically improve health conditions and outcomes.

CBE 515/499/ BME 598: Adaptive Biomedical Design

Background: This mixed undergraduate-graduate elective course adopted design challenges and key in-class exercises to provide students with the opportunity to develop numerous design solutions for critical biomedical applications. Students displayed, tested, and demonstrated their designs at an Adaptative Design Challenge forum on the UNM campus which was open to the public.

Challenge 1: Designing a Better Wallet
In this in-class design project, students start by working individually, drawing an ideal wallet. They then work in pairs to interview a partner and develop a wallet for them and around their needs, developing empathy for their partner’s unique experience. Students identify the needs of their partner, develop five radical ways to fulfill this need, share their solution, capture feedback from their partner, and iterate the solution. After this, students have an opportunity to build and test their design, receive additional feedback, and iterate.

Challenge 2: Redesigning a Better Morning Commute
In this in-class design project, students work in pairs to listen and interview each other regarding their morning commutes. Students collect and evaluate their aggregate information, brainstorm, create prototypes based on solving a specific issue, collect feedback from other groups, and reflect/modify their solutions.

Challenge 3: Redesign of a Consumer Product for Individuals with Limited Mobility
An Occupational Therapist from UNM (Carla Wilhite) tasks the students to redesign a consumer product so that individuals with limited arm motion and difficulty using three fingers of one hand can use it. In this case, the students re-designed a bra for someone who struggles with hook and eye closures behind their back.

Challenge 4: Wrong Theory Design for People with Hyper-Mobility
Prof. Vanessa Svihla introduces the concept of Wrong Theory design and tasks students to create something that humiliates and endangers people with hypermobility of joints who want to open a door. This allows students to reframe and reset their design thinking process to allow incorrect designs, so that more viable and empathetic solutions can emerge from the process. The data collected from this class was used by Prof. Svihla to publish a paper on implementation of Wrong Theory design in the classroom.

Challenge 5: Final Project - Adaptive Design
The purpose of this project is to design an adaptive device that solves one of three problems: (1) Designing a cup holder that is useful for a wheelchair user, (2) Designing a removable table (“perch”) that can be used to support laptop use, (3) Designing an assistive device that helps individuals in wheelchairs with limited upper-body mobility more easily use blue accessibility buttons to open outer building doors.