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Bioengineering, University, Government, And Industry: A Visit To A Small College

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.88.1 - 1.88.5



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Paper Authors

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James V. Masi

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

_ . Session 2509

Bioengineering, University, Government, and Industry: A Visit to a Small College

James V. Masi, Western New England College, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Springfield, MA 01119

. ..-.

ABSTRACT The Program in bioengineering offens a unique opportunity to integrate the fields of physics and bioengineering into a coherent learning experience which helps the student learn engineering and physics by helping the physically challenged. Through cooperative programs with Shriners Hospital, Baystate Medical (.Tufts), Monsanto Chemical Co., and (for certain devices) NASA Technology Utilization, students from Western New England College, School of Engineering enter into design experiences which have as their goal the solution (via bioengineering and biophysics) of problems unique to the handicapped individuals. The experience related in this paper is that of an engineering professor’s teaching involvement in this merger of physics, bioengineering, industry, government, and student/patient in one of the most rewarding experiences the author has observed in over thirty years of his career. This experience is from the perspective of some of the problems and advantages of a small college. This paper shares these experiences, the advantages, the problems, and the tally of positives and negatives of ten years of this unique teaching/learning experience. Typical industry, classroom, and hospital situations are described with their attendant reactions from teacher, patient, student, and industry. Implementation strategies are suggested for those who wish to develop such a program. Future scenarios for improvement are also discussed.

INTRODUCTION The need for better devices for the physically and mentally challenged has existed for many years. The development of such devices has been delayed and often halted by the cost, lack of standards, lack of return on investment, and individual tailoring necessary for usefulness to the task at hand. Though rehabilitation and bioengineeriug institutions such as N. I. D. R. R., R. E. S. N. A., bit, etc. have served to help to fill the void and develop a fine array of devices for the handicapped, a more broad-based approach touching , not only the handicapped, but the students, institutions, hospitals, and government must be set in place to set aside, by way of educational goals, the barriers which often fail to close the loop. In addition, usual tiding sources earmarked for schools with larger numbers of faculty and accredited programs are not accessible to small colleges whose bioengineenng program is not accredited, due to size alone. It is in this setting that the Program in Bioengineering at Western New England College in 1982 set up, as part of its Capstone Course, called Senior Design Projects, a cooperative utilizing the facilities of the school, industry, and hospital, the talents of professor, medical professional, industrial technologist, and student, and the base of ideas generated by all parties, including NASA’s Technology Utilization Services (as found in NASA Tech Briefs). The meetings of the parties involved, student, professor, medical professional, industrial advisor, and patient, was part of the structure which proceeded quite easily. The orchestration of the effort was the only portion of the program remaining to be clarified. How would costs be shared? How would time be allocated? Who would own the invention if one resulted from the work? How does a SMALL school keep this going in the light of declining funding and increasing legal implications?

STRUCTURE OF THE COURSE - The students, in the beginning of their junior (third) year of studies, are introduced to a course called Practicum in Bioengineering. The rationale for this course stems from the need for students in engineering, especially bioengineering, to learn their engineering in the real world with the design of devices and sotlsvare which serve the needs of handicapped individuals. At

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Masi, J. V. (1996, June), Bioengineering, University, Government, And Industry: A Visit To A Small College Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--5898

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