A N A L Y T I C A L   C H E M I S T R Y  2 5 6
R O L E - P L A Y I N G  L A B
1998-1999 Academic Year
©Prof. John P. Walters
St. Olaf College
Northfield, MN 55057

Introduction to Role-Playing and Laboratory Computing
Defining the Kinds of Role-Playing Responsibilities
Round-Robin Certification of Laboratory Glassware
Production Quality Control Lead Analysis
Statistical/Chemical Evaluation of Lead Data
Semi-Automated Weak Acid Titration
Graphical Analysis of Weak Acid Titration
Designing a Mock Robot Experiment
Executing the Mock Robot Experiment
The Incredible Edible Easter Egg Grass Advertising Dilemma
The Downsizing Dilemma
The Broken Pill Coating Machine Assembly Line Shutdown Dilemma

The Individual v. Departmental Instrument Purchase Dilemma



Manager: Reaching a decision whether to buy four instruments
Chemist: Blending a test mixture of likely toxic hydrocarbons
Software: Interfacing the LC directly into the lab microcomputer
Hardware: Running the HPLC instrument connected to the lab robot.


When a research group is in pursuit of a hot idea, checking results along the way must be simple enough that the analytical instruments are part of the solution, not part of the problem. Here, Manager thinks s/he has found a new, inexpensive, isochratic liquid chromatograph that will be reliable under irregular and unscheduled use, handle aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures with good chromatographic properties, elute mixtures quickly, and still be simple enough to operate using commercial interfaced computers without the necessity for skilled programming. The primary objective is to form an evaluative "hit squad" to determine if this is true, and if so, whether four of the chromatographs should be purchased as individual research instruments, or if a centrally maintained and technician operated departmental instrument is a better choice.


Manager has the above issues to discuss, verify, or refute. Computer records showing the chromatographic performance of the instrument must be available for inspection. The ease with which the testing was done is important. Quick startups, easy interfacing, drift free operation, rapid peak elution, and good chromatographic column properties (plate count, resolution, and selectivity) for the separation need to be demonstrated, along with Manager's estimate of instrumental suitability for the research task. The final conclusion is whether to buy or not, and then whether to put up with departmental politics on a centrally located and maintained instrument, or to attempt to operate and maintain within the group and retain complete control of the resource.