In the ATEP Biotechnology Simulations the learner experiences how the fields of biotechnology and engineering merge together through solving problem-based design challenges situated in the workplace setting of a biotechnology production facility.  

In parallel with the sims, the learner applies what they learned in the sim to design, build and test a fully functional bioreactor which can be used to mass produce medicines or generate alternative fuels.

Statement of the Problem

Traditional pharmaceuticals used to treat diabetic patients require the pancreas from 70 pigs or 14 cows to provide seven to ten pounds of pancreas, to purify enough insulin for one year’s treatment for a single diabetic. Although this technique has proven to be effective in most individuals, some have had adverse reactions to animal-based insulin (for example, fever and painful abscesses, which overshadow any benefit).  There is also a concern of how long this supply will be able to meet the growing population of diabetic individuals.  In addition, harvesting of animal insulin is a very expensive business.

Challenge Statement

As a team, you will undertake two experimental explorations to production of insulin for human usage.  The first method studied will be the extraction of insulin from animal pancreases.  In the second method, your team will design and build a recombinant plasmid that can express an insulin protein capable of lowering blood sugar in diabetic patients.

Once you have completed both experimental explorations, you will compare the yield of insulin, as well as the time taken, and then make a recommendation as to which method should be used for large scale production of insulin for human usage.

Bio Sim Sessions
sessions labels


Watch Tutorial Video Play Session 1 Demo
Watch a tutorial video for the Session 1 Demo
[Opens in a new window - 9:22 minutes]
Play the Demo: Session 1 - Orientation Training
[Opens in a new window - uses Unity Web Player]



Instructional Design

Learning Goals

  • Discover how science, technology and engineering come together to help solve problem.
  • 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.
  • Experience what it is like work as a biotechnician.
  • Use technology to solve problems.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will investigate and report on the history of engineering science related to biomanufacturing.
  • Students describe the inputs, processes, and outputs associated with biomanufacturing technological systems.
  • Students will discuss how biomanufacturing technological systems interact to achieve common goals.
  • Students will explain present research and hypothesize about emerging innovative technologies in biomanufacturing.
  • Students will describe the processes for production of an individual product.
  • Students demonstrate written, and electronic communication skills related to biotechnology production.
  • Students will demonstrate the skills used in biomanufacturing and biotechnology research.
  • Students will demonstrate appropriate workplace safety skills and recognize common laboratory hazards.
  • Students will display productive work habits associated with biomanufacturing protocols.



Module A – Biotechnology by Design

Solving Problems with Technology, Engineering, and Science
- Technology, Engineering and Science
- Solving Problems with Biotechnology

Your Biotechnology Problem
- Design Process

What is Biotechnology?
- Myth vs Fact
- Biotechnology Through Time
- Types of Biotechnology

What Do Biotechnologists Do and Where Do They Work?
- What Do People Do in Biotechnology?
- Where Do They Work?

Biology Basics
- A Day in the Life of a Protein
- Beginnings of Recombinant DNA Technology

Going to Market
- Regulating the Biotechnology Industry
- Product Testing and Clinical Trials

Product Redesign and Maximizing Product Production
- Advances in Cloning Technology and Redesign of Insulin
- Maximizing Insulin Production
- Retesting and Commercialization of Insulin

Module B – Applications of Biotechnology

Working in the Laboratory
- Basic Techniques

Building Your Bioreactor
- Assessing Your Tech Park Plans
- Refining Your Design

Upstream Work
- Recombinant DNA Techniques in the Lab
- Preparing and Inoculating Your Media
- Monitoring Growth
- Graphing
- Optimizing Growth Conditions

Downstream Work
- Harvesting Your Culture
- Purifying Your Product
- Testing Your Product

Biotechnology Applications
- Agriculture
- Environmental
- Medical
- Commodities

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