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Bioelectrical Instrumentation: Connections within Interdisciplinary Engineering Education

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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

Instrumentation in Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.264.1 - 25.264.7



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Paper Authors


Andrew M. Hoff University of South Florida

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Andrew Hoff is a professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida. His research and educational focus explore bio-electric phenomena and the processing and characterization of material surfaces. He has developed educational materials for high school science and math curricula with funding provided by the National Science Foundation.

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Richard Gilbert University of South Florida

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Richard Gilbert is a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the University of South Florida. He has been a member of the USF College of Engineering faculty since 1981 and is an emeritus member of the American Association for Cancer Research. His current research interests focus on instrumentation and controls as related to development of electric field mediated drug and gene deliver. Efforts in this area include patents and papers as well as developing the first FDA-approved clinical trials for this technology for cancer therapy. Gilbert is also the Co-principal Investigator of the NSF Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence in Florida, FLATE. FLATE is responsible for the development of a unified engineering technology degree program for the Florida State College System. These activities include developing a unified engineering technology education pathway from high school through the B.S. in engineering technology and the providing the state colleges recruitment and retention support for students within this career pathway.

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Bioelectrical Instrumentation: Connections Within Interdisciplinary Engineering EducationA challenge within interdisciplinary engineering education is directing the student focus out oftheir traditional or “home” discipline and across the multi-dimensional structure of newcurricula. This challenge is particularly active at this institution within new courses emerging inresponse to an increased focus on engineering with a biological perspective. The objective inthis case was to explore the use of and extensions facilitated by an integrated instrumentationplatform that permits students to perform bio-electrical measurements using their own bodies asthe subject of laboratory instrumentation investigations.The instrumentation platform utilized components from Biopac Systems, including: an amplifiermodule suitable to explore surface potential signals as low as micro-volts, surface electrodes topickup such signals, apparatus to quantify skin response, respiration effort transducers, andsoftware to facilitate signal visualization, guide the student(s) through a procedure, ensure propercalibration, and provide a format to encourage structured extension and exploration by thestudent(s) from a basis topic under study.The course utilized for this work was Bioelectricity, offered to both undergraduate and graduatestudents in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical & Chemical Engineering Departments. Pastofferings were limited to only lecture and therefore the electro-physiology concepts weredescribed but could not be directly demonstrated. In the modified course the data to bequantified herein were obtained from laboratory experiences based upon the modelinstrumentation experiences developed by the equipment vendor. The instrumentation requiredlittle entry background and permitted students with little to extensive experience to acquire andquantify signals independently. Seven specific experimental procedures were performed byteams of students. Each team included both graduate and undergraduate students, some of whomwere from different departments. For the majority of students, they had never observed electricalsignals acquired from their own body.Assessments in the form of pre- and post-experiment questionnaires, the use of rubrics toquantify the detail and structure of student work and understanding, and the students’ perceptionscomparing the active individual/group learning facilitated by this instrumentation with previouslaboratory experiences were obtained. These results will be explored from the perspective ofextending this instrumentation approach to a broader offering of interdisciplinary courses.

Hoff, A. M., & Gilbert, R. (2012, June), Bioelectrical Instrumentation: Connections within Interdisciplinary Engineering Education Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21022

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