286671 Motivating K-12 Students to Study Pharmaceutical Engineering with Hands-On Modules, Guided Visits and a One-Week Summer Camp
The pharmaceutical industry is important for the economy of Puerto Rico offering approximately 22% of the total manufacturing employment in the island. Since qualified human resources are fundamental, it is important to develop and support initiatives to help students increase their awareness of this area in the early stages of their academic careers.
The Pharmaceutical Engineering Education and Outreach Program of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM), as a member of the Engineering Research Center for Structured Organic Particulate Systems, organizes periodic K-12 activities to improve student recruitment and help in the training of current students who will be able to apply their knowledge across disciplines and advance technology.
Here, we report the results of two educational initiatives: monthly guided visits and a yearly one-week summer camp. In both of them, a team of graduate and undergraduate students of the Chemical Engineering Department of UPRM guide K-12 students through a series of demonstrations and hands-on modules in a pharmaceutical operations laboratory. These initiatives expose the participants to interactive experiences where they can learn and apply pharmaceutical engineering concepts, such as: laboratory safety (combustible dusts), powder characterization, solid mixing, granulation, tablet compression, coating, tablet dissolution, friability, etc.
The aim of these activities is to introduce and attract middle and high school students to basic concepts of Pharmaceutical Engineering in interactive ways. To date, the program has impacted 375 students and 18 K-12 teachers in addition to the direct impact to 20 undergraduate students and 6 graduate students of UPRM.
A comparison of the preliminary and final tests demonstrated that the students are learning new pharmaceutical concepts and the results of the satisfaction surveys indicate that almost 89% of the participants rated the activities as excellent.