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A First Course to Expose Disparate Students to the BmE Field

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

BME Courses and Learning Activities

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.41.1 - 22.41.10



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Paper Authors


Charles J. Robinson Clarkson University Orcid 16x16

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Director, Center for Rehabilitation Engineering, Science, and Technology (CREST), and Shulman Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY.
Senior Rehab Research Career Scientist, VA Medical Center, Syracuse, NY. Adjunct Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY.

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A First Course to Expose Disparate Students to the BmE FieldIn a small but research-intensive university with a strong engineering college, establishing aformal BmE department is not now feasible. However, given its strong commitment to interdis-ciplinary learning, two complimentary Minors in Biomedical Engineering (for engineering stu-dents) and in Biomedical Science and Technology (for Arts and Sciences and Business students)have been established that share many courses. To help recruit for these minors, an introductorycourse is needed to grab the interest of freshman and first semester sophomores for BmE. Giventhe disparate backgrounds and analytical skills of these students, such a course needs to bestructured to provide enough engineering principles and examples to be of use to engineeringmajors, but not so esoteric as to be above the capabilities of other majors.The course was also structured for our University’s Common Experience requirement, for whichstudents must select four courses that cover various Knowledge Areas, including a Science,Technology and Society (STS) area. STS courses must analyze relationships and conflictingcultural values among science, technology, and the health and welfare of humans. A sophomoreBmE course (BR200) has thus been designed as an STS course. It has been taught in the Fall of2009 (30 students) and 2010 (45 students) to engineering, business, and bioscience majors(freshmen to seniors).This course examines the technological bases of important innovations in medical technologyand analyzes the economic and ethical issues surrounding them. It analyzes advances inbiomedical engineering that have impacted human health. The first lecture of a week gives anoverview of the scientific and engineering principles of a particular advance. The second weeklylecture considers the societal and political responses to that advance, with particular emphasis onethical issues. Advances to aid people with disability are especially covered.The course is given in Socratic style, with extensive instructor-teacher interactions and smallgroup, in-class discussions. There is no textbook, and generally no weekly handout. Students arerequired to take notes in a bound lab notebook, and the quality of the notetaking is graded.Midterm and finals are open notebook (only). A compilation of the aggregate notes taken by allstudents is made, and is made available to the students after a test is taken. This aggregate willserve as a basis for an introductory textbook.Assessment of class outcome is made through exam questions and a term paper requiring synt-hesis of engineering and ethical issues, a survey form, by written evaluation of met and unmetexpectations, likes and dislikes, and suggestions for improvement, and finally by how many takethe minor. Overall, students are very enthusiastic about the class, about being required to takegood notes, and about how ethics are integrated into engineering decisions. For our students, theapproach that this course has taken has served to provide an excellent introduction to thebiomedical and rehabilitation engineering fields.The purpose of this conference presentation is to describe why a sophomore course that providesa qualitative survey of BmE works well for us in attracting students to the field. 500 words

Robinson, C. J. (2011, June), A First Course to Expose Disparate Students to the BmE Field Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17323

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