Asee peer logo

An Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML) Module Involving Global Markets for Medical Devices Implemented in an Engineering Physiology Course

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ENT Division Technical Session: EM Across the Curriculum II

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Tagged Topic


Page Count




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, OH, in 2003 and 2009, respectively. During his undergraduate training, he worked for Ethicon Endo-Surgery and AtriCure, companies that specialize in the development of novel surgical devices. While completing his doctoral dissertation, Dr. 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 where he currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering. He teaches undergraduate courses in bioinstrumentation, physiology, lab-on-a-chip, and global health. Dr. Rust has published numerous papers in professional conferences and technical journals, and he is a co-inventor on four US patents. He is a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Dr. Rust’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Society for Quality (ASQ), Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), and the Jenzabar Foundation. His research interests involve the development of point-of-care medical technologies, including bioinstrumentation for use in low-resource settings. Dr. Rust is the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at New England Breath Technologies, which is developing a non-invasive breathalyzer for diabetes care.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Biomedical engineering (BME) is a demanding field of study since students must develop not only technical skills in engineering, but also a solid understanding of human physiology. This has often been addressed in the BME curriculum by the inclusion of stand-alone courses in anatomy and physiology, which attempt to provide students with the background knowledge needed to be successful in the medical field [1]. However, the large volume of anatomical structures and physiological principles covered in these courses can make them quite challenging for students, especially considering how different this type of content is from other engineering courses (e.g., instrumentation, materials science, etc.) [2,3]. Moreover, many students struggle in these medically-focused courses to make connections between the underlying physiology and their work as engineers (e.g., development of a medical device). As a result, modules are sought that connect physiology course content to medical technologies in an authentic, active-learning format. Here, we describe a new module that uses entrepreneurially minded learning (EML) to engage BME students in a case study involving global markets for medical devices [4,5].

In this module (developed for a junior-level engineering physiology course) students were presented a scenario involving a company that is considering taking an existing medical device (e.g., blood glucometer) into new markets. The central question of the assignment is whether there is a global market for this product, or if it is only suitable for use in the domestic market. Students were assigned a particular region/country of the world to explore (e.g., Europe, South America, Asia, etc.), including metrics to investigate such as clinical relevance, economics, and technical feasibility. Ultimately, the students were asked to provide a recommendation as to whether there is a market opportunity to exploit, or if the device should remain in the U.S. marketplace. The students were also exposed to the underlying physiology behind the disease condition related to this medical device, which was the only topic from this module that was covered in the course prior to this intervention.

In order to assess the impact of the new learning module, pre- and post-module surveys were developed and administered. The surveys were approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at XXX prior to their use. To maintain confidentiality, students were randomly assigned a 6-digit code that was used to pair responses on the pre- and post-module surveys. The surveys consisted of technical questions (e.g., short answer and multiple choice) regarding the case study as well as 5-choice Likert-scale questions that prompted students to rate their current level of knowledge/ability regarding various EML skills. Pre- and post-module survey responses were compared using a one-tailed, paired-t-test with a significance level of 0.05. Of the 21 students in the course, 20 completed both the pre- and post-module surveys (95% response rate, N=20).

The results from analysis of the surveys showed that the modules led to increased student-reported confidence in 7 out of 12 proposed EML skills, including investigating the market (p=7.4x10-5), evaluating technical/economic feasibility (p=2.9x10-5), and communicate an engineering solution in economic terms (6.4x10-5). Additionally, student performance on the technical questions increased from an average score of 55 ± 27% on the pre-module survey to 78 ± 20 % on the post-module survey (p=0.002).

Since the results from the first implementation of the new module were successful, it is expected that it will be continued to be implemented in future versions of the course. The case study used in the first iteration could be altered to investigate alternative combinations of diseases and medical devices, enabling the instructor to implement the module at other points along the course timeline. Additionally, the module could be tailored to other engineering courses outside of BME by changing the focus from a medical device to a consumer product.

References [1] R. Linsenmeier, D. Gatchell, Physiology concepts and physiology problems for biomedical engineering students, Proceedings of the 2008 ASEE Annual Conference. [2] H.E. Gunter, M.A. D’Avila, S. Sadeghpour, R. Vijaykumar, J.V. Bonventre, Educational innovation in physiology: Capillary filtration, Proceedings of the 2003 ASEE Annual Conference. [3] J.L. Cezeaux, T.K. Keyser, Introducing active learning strategies into an undergraduate engineering physiology course, Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference. [4] A.L. Gerhart, D.D. Carpenter, R.W. Fletcher, E.G. Meyer, Combining discipline-specific introduction to engineering courses into a single multi-discipline course to foster the entrepreneurial mindset with entrepreneurially minded learning, Proceedings of the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference. [5] E. Jablonski, Fostering intra- and entrepreneurship in engineering students, Proceedings of the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference.

Rust, M. J. (2020, June), An Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML) Module Involving Global Markets for Medical Devices Implemented in an Engineering Physiology Course Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34117

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: © 2020 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