From left to right: Nermin Uvejzovik, Staci Beck, Aubrie Smith, Mitzi Irish, Carrie Pederson, and Derek Gleue

From left to right: Nermin Uvejzovik, Staci Beck, Aubrie Smith, Mitzi Irish, Carrie Pederson, and Derek Gleue accept their third place award in the annual Pipetting Challenge. Not pictured: Sheri Mitchell, Wendy Dong, Cindy Kuo, and Kris Moore.

December 11, 2023

The results are in: ARUP Laboratories employees have pulled off another successful pipetting challenge, with seven of ARUP’s employee teams placing in the top 10 in the national Pipetting Challenge held during this year’s Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. ARUP’s teams ranked among the top three nationally, placing first and third.

Advanced Instruments (formerly Artel) organized the competition, which was held in April. The event puts laboratorians to the test by seeing who can pipette with the most accuracy and precision.

In late November, Advanced Instruments announced the top 10 teams of at least 10 employees to all participating companies. The organization determined results based on each participant’s coefficient of variation (CV%). The CV% is a measure of how similar the dispensed volumes are in repeated trials and, therefore, represents precision.

Ligaya Kuiken, MLS(ASCP)CM, MB(ASCP)CM, ARUP Human Resources (HR) education program coordinator, said that hosting this year’s challenge took cooperation and diligence. Kuiken and her team of event planners in HR worked with many other departments and individuals at ARUP to make the event happen.

Ahmed Mohammed accepts an award from Ligaya Kuiken. Tyler Tinling and Tiffany Harris look on.
Ahmed Mohammed accepts an award from Ligaya Kuiken while Tyler Tinling and Tiffany Harris look on. Members of Mohammed’s team not pictured here include: Chimyenum Dowe, Ani Schljelderup, Pablo Salazar, Asha Booker, Jared Hansen, Mary Grace Tono, James Kupferschmidt, Zara Marzan, and Naphavanh Phengphong.

The event planners’ responsibilities ranged “from coordinating an online sign-up sheet for the participants with Information Technology (IT), to ordering, receiving, and setting up the instruments in time for the competition with the warehouse and Bioengineering,” Kuiken said. “We also organized a volunteer shift schedule with the education coordinators, HR, Quality, and evening/night group managers to have proctors for the event across all shifts.”

For Kuiken, the payoff was worth her efforts, as ARUP had a successful year in terms of turnout and awards. More than 250 ARUP employees participated this year, and roughly 70 were on winning teams of 10 participants or more. Advanced Instruments has not yet released results for individuals and teams of fewer than 10.

As a former medical laboratory scientist, Kuiken appreciates the importance of events such as this. She even participated in the Pipetting Challenge and earned an award with her own team in 2012.

“Having a chance to highlight the world-class skills of ARUP’s staff, while also having fun and fostering friendly team building, are reasons why this event is worthwhile and important,” Kuiken said. “Accurate and precise pipetting has a direct impact on patients’ test results.”

Derek Gleue, CQA, C(ASCP)CM, a quality specialist in ARUP’s PharmaDx Group, earned one of the lowest CV% scores (0.08%) of ARUP’s participants—and in this case, “lowest” is best. This is Gleue’s second time competing in the Pipetting Challenge. In 2019, he participated with a different team and earned a similarly impressive score.

In his current role, Gleue does not regularly use pipettes. He was pleasantly surprised to see his results and compared pipetting to “riding a bike.”

Gleue said that the event is not only a fun challenge, but also a way for employees to hone their pipetting skills. As a quality specialist, he recognizes the importance of events like this to help employees practice and strengthen their skills. 

“That’s what quality is,” he said. “It’s continuously improving.”