• Welcome to Module A — Biotechnology


    “Nature” has had millions of years to solve problems. Using biotechnology, scientists and engineers take advantage of what nature has already done and expand on it. As a result, they have figured out how to use biotechnology to solve a variety of problems ranging from common every day problems such as

    • Cleaning clothes more effectively with detergents that contain enzymes
    • Fixing a gene that causes cystic fibrosis so a person can breathe better
    • Mass-producing genetically engineered insulin
    • Developing renewable fuels
    • Genetically altering corn so that herbicides or insecticides can be sprayed across the field and only kill the weeds or pests

    Of course, using these technologies involves weighing the trade-offs between the positive and negative effects. These technologies did not appear by accident. They are developed over long periods of time with an abundance of research, design practices and collaboration among people from  different fields.

    What will I learn in this course?

    In this course, you will be introduced to the fields of biotechnology and engineering. Lastly, you will use what you have learned to design, build, and test a fully functional bioreactor which can be used to mass produce medicines or generate alternative fuels. You will be the engineer.

    Over the next eight weeks you will:

    • Discover how science, technology and engineering come together to help solve problems
    • Explore different fields of biotechnology and its applications in your life
    • Review basic biology and engineering principles
    • Create an artificial source of insulin using biotechnology and engineering techniques
    • Work as a team to design, build, test and evaluate a bioreactor in your own classroom
    • Experience what its like work as a biotechnician
    • Use technology to solve problems
Section 1 Introduction