ON HIATUS 03 Chemical Engineering Research

2021 information is provided for reference

2021 Topic:  Costs of Bringing a Vaccine to Market   

This event is limited to the first 18 entries


Teams of 2 or 3 students will report on all aspects involved in the development of a vaccine.

This research project is a combination of the chemistry involved in developing a vaccine on a laboratory scale and the chemical engineering involved in the scaling up of the process for the manufacture of the vaccine on a large scale.




The written paper and Poster/PowerPoint must adhere to the ACS style guide. Citations should follow ACS style guidelines [Oregon State University Quick Guide: ACS Citation Style].


Select a specific vaccine to research:

  • Discuss the synthesis of the vaccine. Explain all steps of the synthesis and describe any problem areas involved. 

  • Describe the analytical techniques used to establish the purity of the vaccine.

  • Discuss the typical yields.

  • Explain any other synthetic methods that have been used to prepare the vaccine.

  • Describe the engineering techniques used to produce the vaccine initially on a pilot scale and then on a large manufacturing scale, clearly indicating the different approaches to each.

  • Illustrate the equipment used for heating, mixing, reactor design and fluid transport.  Explain why different approaches must be used for small-scale and large-scale processes.

  • Explain what is required for clinical trials [e.g. Phases 1-4].

  • Provide the details involved with licensure.

  • Describe processes used in the distribution of the vaccine for hospitals, clinics, etc.


The team must demonstrate a clear understanding of all the processes involved from the initial idea and research concept to the final distribution of the vaccine in tablet or liquid form.

The written report may not exceed 10 pages, 12-point font, double spaced plus Appendices [see below]. Include a cover page that indicates the title of the paper, the authors, the school name and Team A or Team B [if applicable]

All research papers must be built upon information acquired from a minimum of 3 PRIMARY SOURCES. Although internet sources may also be utilized in addition to the primary sources, judges will be looking at how students select and use information from PRIMARY SOURCES. Examples of PRIMARY SOURCES include articles found in scientific journals. Peer-reviewed journals that are accessed online are also acceptable.

You are required to submit photocopies of the first three pages of each primary source used in your paper.


All sources of information must be clearly identified.



  • Appendix 1:  Documentation of the scientific and engineering processes using diagrams, flow charts etc.

  • Appendix 2:  Safety aspects involved in the development and production of the vaccine

  • Appendix 3:  Photocopies of the first three pages of the primary source articles used in your research


  1. VIDEO

Produce a 3 to 5-minute video summarizing the key elements of the whole process. This should be posted to YouTube to share with the judges before Event Day. The URL of the video should be sent along with the team’s research paper.




  • The written paper and Poster/PowerPoint must adhere to the ACS Style Guide [see above].

  • An electronic copy of the complete report and YouTube URL must be received by the NJCO Event Coordinator by the deadline indicated in the Competition Guidelines. The report must be clearly labeled with the school name, Team A or B [if applicable], student names, and coach’s name.

  • Teams are also required to submit their papers to Turnitin.com for review. All submissions must be in the form of a single file in Microsoft Word format




  1. Present either a poster or a PowerPoint presentation that focuses on all the chemical and engineering principles used in the development and production of the vaccine

  2. Be prepared to participate in a short question and answer session with the judges online.




  • Written report and YouTube Video     40%

  • Evidence of an understanding of the engineering factors involved in the scale-up process [heating, mixing, reactor design etc.]       30 %

  • Oral presentation and ability to answer questions   30 %



After researching the process of developing a vaccine, comment on the fact that in general, it takes 10 -15 years to bring a vaccine from cradle to grave. Account for the high cost involved in vaccine development and suggest what factors could contribute to speeding up and minimizing the cost.