First-Year Hands-On Design Course: Implementation & Reception


  • Anthony E. Butterfield University of Utah
  • Kyle Branch University of Utah
  • Edward Trujillo University of Utah


To incorporate active and collaborative teaching methods early in our curriculum, we have developed a freshman design laboratory. The course introduces numerous core concepts and lab skills, by way of seven teaching modules, including spectrometer construction and a collaborative project with seniors. Survey data show students enjoyed and learned more from the course than through traditional methods. This class lays the groundwork for proven pedagogy throughout our curriculum. 

Author Biographies

Anthony E. Butterfield, University of Utah

Anthony Butterfield is an Assistant Professor (Lecturing) in the Chemical Engineering Department of the

University of Utah. He received his B. S. and Ph. D. from the University of Utah and a M. S. from the

University of California, San Diego. His teaching responsibilities include the senior unit operations

laboratory and freshman design laboratory. His research interests focus on undergraduate education,

targeted drug delivery, photobioreactor design, and instrumentation. 

Kyle Branch, University of Utah

Kyle Branch is a first-year graduate student at the University of Utah Department of Chemical

Engineering. He helped develop the described freshman laboratory class and was the teaching assistant

for the course. His main research interest is in engineering education, focusing on the creation of

interactive simulations for undergraduate chemical engineering courses. 

Edward Trujillo, University of Utah

Edward Trujillo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and an adjunct professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT). His degrees are in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona (B.S), California Institute of Technology (MS) and the University of Utah (Ph.D.). His research interests are in the general areas of environmental and biochemical engineering and include the study of acid mine drainage, biosorption of heavy metals, removal of selenium from wastewater, multilayered growth of mammalian cells and tissue engineering.