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A Two Project Sequence For Learning Fem, Cad And Manufacturing Skills

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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

BME Laboratories and Skills-Based Projects

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.127.1 - 13.127.11

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Paper Authors

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Donna Ebenstein Bucknell University

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Daniel Cavanagh Bucknell University

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

A Two-Project Sequence for Learning FEM, CAD and Manufacturing Skills


For biomedical engineering (BME) graduates to be effective contributors to the field, BME students should be introduced to the use of a variety of modern engineering tools in their undergraduate curriculum. ABET establishes that expectation through criterion 3k, which states that a biomedical engineering graduate from an accredited program should be able to demonstrate “an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice”. These tools may take on a variety of forms, including both engineering software (e.g. LabVIEW, SolidWorks, COMSOL, MatLAB) and engineering instrumentation (e.g. DAQ, oscilloscopes, multimeters, rapid prototype machines, and machine shop tools). In our BME curriculum, we aim to introduce students to a broad range of engineering tools through direct hands on experiences. While some tools are incorporated into standard 2 hour instructional laboratories, others are introduced through student-selected, open-ended, multiweek or semester long projects.

In this paper, we present a two-project sequence spanning two semesters that was designed to introduce students to several engineering tools through open-ended, student-selected projects. This project sequence is based on investigation of physiological fluid flow phenomena using 2D computational modeling and 3D flow chamber fabrication and testing. The engineering tools that students learn to use to complete their fluid flow projects are computational modeling software (COMSOL), computer-aided design software (SolidWorks), and manufacturing tools (rapid prototype machine, mill, saw, and drill). However, a similar two-project sequence could be developed in a variety of biomedical emphases and to include a variety of engineering tools.

In this paper we will provide an overview of each of the courses and projects involved in the sequence, including project objectives. We will share examples of the final results for both projects, and summarize the feedback received from student evaluations for the two years the project sequence has been taught. Finally, we will summarize the advantages, challenges, and broader applications of this approach in the conclusion.

Course and Project Sequence

This two-project sequence spans two required courses offered in two consecutive semesters. BMEG 300, Biotransport I, is taught in spring of the junior year. This course introduces students to the principles of biomedical fluid mechanics and culminates in the first project: a 2D computational model of a physiological fluid flow phenomenon. The second course in the sequence, BMEG 409, Fabrication & Experimental Design, is taught in fall of the senior year. The first half of this course introduces students to fabrication tools, and culminates in the second project: the design and fabrication of a 3D fluid flow chamber. Both courses and projects will be described in more detail below.

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