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Board 19: Work in Progress: Spicing Up Instruction of Professional Topics in Biomedical Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jeffrey A. LaMack Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. LaMack is Program Director of Biomedical Engineering in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the MIlwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). His areas of specialty include biophysical transport phenomena, biocomputing, physiology, and engineering design. Dr. LaMack holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University, and he is an alumnus of the Biology Scholars Program of the American Society of Microbiology. Prior to becoming focused on engineering education, his research interests included hemodynamics and the study of how vascular cells respond to fluid forces and its implications in vascular pathologies.

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Olga Imas Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Olga Imas, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where she teaches a variety of courses in biomedical digital signal processing, medical imaging, computing in biomedical engineering, biomaterials, anatomy and physiology. In addition to her academic responsibilities, she acts as a consultant to GE Healthcare for product development with emphasis on advanced imaging applications for neurology, cardiology, and oncology. Olga’s technical areas of expertise include signal and imaging processing, and statistical analysis. In her previous and current product development roles, Olga gained extensive experience in clinical product management involving market analysis for new and existing imaging products, and clinical product marketing. She has experience in managing product evaluations at multiple clinical sites, and has a comprehensive knowledge of neurology, oncology, and cardiology imaging markets. She has established a number of strong collaborations with clinical experts in recognized neuroimaging and oncology centers.

Olga has earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering in 1999, and a doctorate degree in biomedical engineering and functional imaging from the Joint Functional Imaging program at Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin in 2004. Prior to entering academia full-time in 2009, Olga completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in anesthesiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she studied the effects of general anesthetic agents on brain function. She then worked at GE Healthcare as a product development specialist in CT and Molecular Imaging with emphasis on post-processing software applications for neurology, oncology, and cardiology. Olga has over twenty peer-reviewed publications, and three pending patents. Her professional interests include physiological mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease, anesthetic ablation of consciousness, and applicability of medical imaging in stroke and brain trauma.

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Larry Fennigkoh P.E. Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Larry Fennigkoh is a professor of biomedical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in medical instrumentation, biomedical engineering design, biomechanics, biostatistics, and human physiology. He is a Registered Professional Engineer and board certified in clinical engineering. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers, Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, American College of Clinical Engineering, American Society for Engineering Education, and an inducted Fellow within both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American College of Clinical Engineering.

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Charles S. Tritt Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Dr. Tritt has been the director of the Biomedical Engineering program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) since 2009. He has been teaching at MSOE since 1990. His Ph.D. is in Chemical Engineering from the Ohio State University as is his B.S. degree. He holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, also from Ohio State. His research interests include biomedical applications of mass, heat and momentum transfer; medical product and process modeling; biomaterials; and entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialization in engineering education.

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Icaro Dos Santos

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Practical knowledge of topics such as FDA and international regulatory compliance, standards for medical devices, quality control in medical device manufacturing, and healthcare economics, are among the distinguishing skills of many biomedical engineers. Furthermore, industry highly values familiarity with these topics in BME undergraduates. However, it is challenging to instruct students on these inherently dry topics, particularly in the absence of practical applications. Previous approaches toward teaching these topics in our curriculum mainly involved lectures scattered throughout our extended capstone design course series. While the coupling between presentation of these topics and students’ design projects was often successful, student feedback was mixed in response to this approach. Students sometimes reported that presentations covering these topics were not timely (different design projects progress at different paces and address the topics at different points in time), that they were a distraction from the main goal of conducting design work in the laboratory, or that they were simply boring.

We hypothesized that the majority of negative student feedback arose around the issue of students’ inability to experience immediate practical application of the different concepts. In addition, assessment of accreditation outcomes, many of which relate to these topics, was performed inconsistently by different faculty teaching these design courses, leading to some question regarding the validity of the assessment data. To address these issues, during a recent major curriculum revision, a new two-credit course concentrating on professional topics in BME was developed. Topics were chosen and prioritized considering input from the program’s industrial advisory committee and surveys of graduating students. This course comes early in the junior year, before students begin their capstone design sequence at the end of the junior year. Two important features of the course address the student feedback. Firstly, experts from industry and academia were enlisted to deliver the majority of the presentations in the course. They were encouraged to provide examples of real-world experiences as much as possible in their presentations. Secondly, a case study involving a novel medical device idea was described to the class early, and discussion of how most topics would apply to this device was a planned component of most presentations. In addition, the course allows consolidation of some outcome assessments to provide better opportunity for consistent assessment methods. One final benefit of the approach is that it would guarantee that all students were exposed to each topic prior to its relevance in each student’s capstone design project, where it would later be reinforced.

Future data will be collected to determine whether or not student attitudes toward these topics is improved compared to our previous approach, whether outcome assessment is more consistent, and whether student outcome achievement is improved.

LaMack, J. A., & Imas, O., & Fennigkoh, L., & Tritt, C. S., & Dos Santos, I. (2018, June), Board 19: Work in Progress: Spicing Up Instruction of Professional Topics in Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah.

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