Developing Hands-on Opportunities for First-year Students to Explore Biological Engineering

Principal Investigator
Dr. Tony Kulesa, Biological Engineering; Mr. Steve Wasserman, Biological Engineering; Dr. Maxine Jonas, Biological Engineering; Dr. Ritu Raman, Biological Engineering
Fund: Alumni Class Funds
Funding Period: AY2020
Department/Lab/Center: Biological Engineering

The Office of the Vice Chancellor recently highlighted the difficulties faced by first-years in exploring the many possible future majors and careers. One notable innovation towards this goal is a first-year seminar course by Prof. Dennis Freeman, Mens et Manus : The Joy of MIT (6.A01). In this course, students complete a pair of five-week project modules as an inspiring, hands-on introduction to possible majors. We propose to develop two new project modules for Mens et Manus based in the life sciences: engineering light-sensitive bacteria “photographic ink,” and building muscle-cell-powered locomotive bio-bots. These projects will reinforce fundamental biology concepts, set forth the idea that biological systems can be engineered, and promote exploration of the field of biological engineering.