Conclusion & Recommendations
It is important, and sometimes challenging, to attract students to their
majors in the first year of university study. Our experience in the design,
development, implementation, and evaluation of the MC for new
biotechnology students at East China University of Science and Technology in the past 12 years suggests that a well-defined competition is
a strong incentive to students and acts as an effective complement to
the introductory courses. Students learned new knowledge and
obtained new abilities from the competition, while faculty learned
how to organize their teaching activities well using the OBE philosophy.
Participating in the MC was a good start for students wishing to
do research in biotechnology. For example, a student who participated in MC9 has since won a national scholarship and a national outstanding undergraduate prize and is now studying as a PhD student at
Tsinghua University. She told us that the first research experience on
her résumé is the MC, during which she discovered the beauty of
Looking at what has been achieved in past competitions, we conclude that this competition can still be improved in many ways. We
have found that new university students are more active and curious
in biology than their counterparts 10 years ago were, so the difficulty
of the competition needs to be adjusted accordingly. With the fast
development of synthetic and systematic biology, new students are
not satisfied with simply finding new natural microbes; they also want
to assemble artificial, engineered microbes for new biofunctions. More
importantly, we think that the competition should further emphasize
the significance and emergent nature of serious issues that humans are
facing, such as climate change, energy shortage, environmental pollution, human health, food, and poverty. The competition should teach
students that continuous creative work in biotechnology and other
disciplines will result in the science and innovative technology needed
to address these issues. We hope that our experience in holding the
Microbe Competition can help our colleagues in various disciplines
organize their own introductory activities to attract more undergraduate students to engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs.
We would like to thank all our biotechnology colleagues who
have been involved in the MC project, as well as our graduate
teaching assistants for their effort in its implementation over the
years. We give special thanks to Yaning Chang, of the Undergraduate Lab Center in the School of Biotechnology, who has been a
relentless supporter of the MC project. We value the outstanding
dedication and creative work of all the students who joined us
and worked toward the success of the MC events. We greatly
appreciate the financial support of East China University of Science and Technology.
ACM-ICPC (2017). http://www.acm.org/.
Baker, D. & Sali, A. (2001). Protein structure prediction and structural
genomics. Science, 294, 93–96.
CASP (2017). http://predictioncenter.org/.
IBO (2017). http://www.ibo-info.org/.
IChO (2017). http://www.ichosc.org/.
IMO (2017). http://www.imo-official.org/.
IPhO (2017). http://ipho.org/.
Khalil, L.I., Chahine, K.M. & Kaafarani, B.R. (2015). International Organic
Chemistry Competition: a thrilling, unique experience. Journal of
Chemical Education, 92, 401–404.
Lucena, J., Downey, G., Jesiek, B. & Elber, S. (2008). Competencies beyond
countries: the re-organization of engineering education in the United
States, Europe, and Latin America. Journal of Engineering Education, 97,
Male, S.A. (2010). Generic engineering competencies: a review and
modeling approach. Education Research and Perspectives, 37,
Passow, H.J. (2012). Which ABET competencies do engineering graduates
find most important in their work? Journal of Engineering Education,
Figure 5. Numbers of participants from the top six schools in MC3, MC6, and MC11. Inset: gender ratio of participants.