June 16, 2002
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An Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Curriculum – First Principles First Michael Nowak, Donald Leone, Ronald Adrezin University of Hartford
The University of Hartford established an undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering in the early 1990s. The program is based on the philosophy that a student should first have a solid foundation in traditional engineering disciplines, followed by in-depth courses in biomedical engineering, significant off-campus experience in a biomedical facility, and design opportunities. This provides the same level of depth as the more “traditional” engineering majors as the core biomedical courses do not need to teach elementary engineering concepts. This follows the pyramid model of only teaching advanced concepts once the basics are understood, and not attempting to teach high level biomedical engineering concepts first.
Traditional undergraduate engineering education, especially in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, allows a graduate to shift among different areas of expertise over their career due to the similarity of fundamental principles. Using this approach, as well as the recent emphasis on engineering design throughout the four-year curriculum, the University of Hartford developed its undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Program. During the first two years, the program is very similar to that of Mechanical or Civil Engineering. Each student becomes strongly versed in basic engineering principles prior to enrolling in the core Biomedical Engineering courses. After mechanics and thermo/fluids the students take courses in Biomechanics and Biofluids. Bioinstrumentation is taken after two courses in Electrical Engineering. This permits the core Biomedical Engineering courses to be taught at a high level, without having to focus on basic principles. This system also permits the students to form study groups with other engineering students to widen the breadth of their exposure to engineering. In addition, students are required to take a year of Chemistry, a year of Anatomy & Physiology and at least one upper level course in Cellular Biology (or the equivalent).
One of the major philosophical issues when designing or revising an undergraduate biomedical engineering program is when to begin teaching core biomedical engineering courses (combining both engineering and bioscience issues), and how to include more “traditional” engineering courses. Specifically, which should come first in the curriculum.
At the University of Hartford, when we established our undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering, we first examined how the other undergraduate disciplines were taught. In all cases, general engineering principles were taught first. These included the topics of statics, dynamics, introduction to electrical engineering, and circuit analysis. The Civil and Mechanical Engineering students also were taught mechanics of materials, thermodynamics, and fluid
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education
Nowak, M., & Ronald, A., & Leone, D. (2002, June), An Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Curriculum First Principles First Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. https://peer.asee.org/11148
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