Asee peer logo

A Multidisciplinary Global Health Course with an Integrated International Field Experience

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Ethics Education, Global Health, and Outreach in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.75.1 - 25.75.19



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Michael J. Rust Western New England University

visit author page

Michael J. Rust received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2003 and 2009, respectively. During his undergraduate training, he worked for Ethicon Endo-Surgery and AtriCure companies, which specialize in the development of novel surgical devices. While completing his doctoral dissertation, Rust served as an NSF GK-12 Graduate Fellow, which allowed him to develop hands-on engineering activities for high school students. In 2009, he joined the faculty of Western New England University as an Assistant Professor of biomedical engineering. He currently teaches undergraduate courses in bioinstrumentation, biomedical systems, circuit analysis, lab-on-a-chip, and global health. He also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Engineering World Health (EWH) Club, and is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). His research interests involve the development of point-of-care medical technologies, including bioinstrumentation for use in low-resource settings.

visit author page


Steven G. Northrup Western New England University

visit author page

Steven G. Northrup is an Associate Professor of electrical and computer engineering at Western New England University in Springfield, Mass. His research interests are in systems engineering and control systems in alternative energy power production, embedded control systems, humanoid and mobile robotics, and pedagogy of multidisciplinary teamwork. He has worked on alternative energy systems in Guatemala and the U.S. Prior to joining Western New England University, he was an Electronics Design Engineer for the Ford Motor Company Electronics Division and a Software Engineer for Nichols Research Corporation. He earned a M.S. and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A Multidisciplinary Global Health Course with an Integrated International Field ExperienceThe recent trend of economic globalization has created a need for engineering graduates withskills outside of the traditional curriculum [1]. In particular, engineering graduates must beprepared to develop solutions in a variety of unfamiliar environments, including foreigncountries, languages, and cultures. Recently, a number of biomedical engineering programs havedeveloped opportunities that emphasize global perspectives through extracurricular activities andresearch experiences [2, 3]. In this work, we describe a multidisciplinary course-based approachthat integrates an international field experience with the study of global health.The new course, which is titled Global Health & Technology, was designed to bring togetherundergraduate students from a variety of disciplines and academic levels to study issues facinghealthcare around the world. The focus of the class is the relationship between healthcare andtechnology in a global context, thus the course content included a study of major diseases, typesof healthcare systems, and socioeconomic considerations. Additionally, each student conductedan independent literature review of the healthcare status of a foreign country and presented theirfindings to the class. The students also worked in teams to develop technology-based solutions tospecific global health issues within economic and material constraints.The centerpiece of the course was an 11-day faculty-led field experience in Guatemala thatoccurred at the end of the semester. To prepare for the field experience, the students were givenlanguage instruction as well as lectures on the history and culture of Guatemala. During the fieldexperience, the students visited clinical care facilities, such as a large regional hospital and alocal clinic. Additionally, the students conducted a health assessment of the region byinterviewing and surveying administrators, healthcare workers, and patients at various facilities.In order to assess the impact of the new course on student interest and attitudes toward globalhealth, a set of pre- and post-course surveys were developed and administered. The results fromthe surveys showed increased student-reported knowledge regarding global health issues aftercompleting the course. The students also reported an increased level of interest in pursuingfurther studies and careers in the area of global health, as well as a desire to become moreproficient in a foreign language.Due to the success of the new course, which was implemented for the first time in Spring 2011, itis expected that subsequent offerings will maintain the integrated format. Additionally, the healthassessment completed during the field experience is expected to generate global health projectsthat may be completed by students in future course offerings as well as the senior designcurriculum. As a result, this course may serve as a model for other institutions who wish to bringauthentic global learning to their own students at various locations in their undergraduateengineering curriculum.References[1] J.M. Grandin and E.D. Hirleman, “Educating engineers as global citizens: A call to action,” Report of the National Summit Meeting on the Globalization of Engineering Education, March 2009.[2] M.I. O’Connor, L. Young, and J.D. Gassert, “A world of education: Healthcare without borders,” Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, June 26-29, 2011.[3] B.B. Fasse and P. Benkeser, “Developing the global biomedical engineer through a 12- month international undergraduate research experience in the U.S. and China,” Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, June 26-29, 2011.

Rust, M. J., & Northrup, S. G. (2012, June), A Multidisciplinary Global Health Course with an Integrated International Field Experience Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20835

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015