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A New Class Covering Health Care Technologies

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Interdisciplinary Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.70.1 - 13.70.7



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Paper Authors


Ryan Beasley Texas A&M University

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Ryan Beasley is an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology at Texas A&M University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2006 as a result of his work on the control of surgical robots. His research activities involve designing surgical robots, developing virtual reality tools to enhance image-guided surgery, investigating haptic interfaces, and devising control algorithms for all the above.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A New Class Covering Health Care Technologies


Due to the rapid growth of the healthcare industry, an unmet need exists for recent graduates with interdisciplinary experience to work in the sales, maintenance, distribution, and repair of devices used in the healthcare industry. According to conversations with industry members, such jobs are often undesired by the only students with adequate interdisciplinary background that graduate from Biomedical Engineering departments. In Fall 2007, a new class was developed to serve as a technical elective for both Industrial Distribution students and Electrical Engineering Technology students. In the hopes of assisting the creation of similar classes in the future, this paper details the class structure, the topics covered, and the difficulties encountered in the inaugural semester.

I. Introduction

Medical devices are interdisciplinary and to fully understand them requires knowledge in such fields as medicine, engineering, and computer science. The healthcare industry is a large field, the largest industry in the US in 2006 with 14 million jobs1, and contains many jobs for selling/making/maintaining medical devices but optimal performance at those positions requires interdisciplinary knowledge to some degree. The majority of college students do not acquire sufficient interdisciplinary experience to prepare them not only for performing such jobs but also for evaluating whether or not they would like to work in the medical device industry. Meanwhile companies provide some training for new hires, but welcome college classes that help students to develop a broad view of technological devices used in healthcare. Most college classes focused on medical devices are offered by biomedical engineering departments and may be impractical for students in other disciplines such as computer science or industrial distribution. This paper describes a class developed in Fall 2007 to survey devices used in hospitals for students of widely varying backgrounds and interests. The goal of this paper is to inform the creation of similar classes at other institutions.

The aim in developing this class was to provide the students with an overview of selected healthcare devices. Through exit interviews with graduating students, discussions with industry members, and guidance from the department head and dean, an opportunity was identified to satisfy student interests and industry needs with regards to the medical device industry. For each device covered, the material includes the reason healthcare personnel would use the device, what it does, the physics behind how it works, any physiology necessary to understand its usage, and the main complications with the device. The class focuses on devices regularly found in hospitals and whose operation the students are unlikely to understand prior to taking the class. For example, several types of imaging were discussed, but not the operation of wheelchairs or adjustable beds.

Two constraints shaped the course structure, the student population and the elective nature of the class. First, the class is attended by students ranging from Sophomores to Seniors, from both the Industrial Distribution and Electrical Engineering Technology programs. This constraint made it infeasible to copy an existing course; most courses on medical devices are offered in

Beasley, R. (2008, June), A New Class Covering Health Care Technologies Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3220

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