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Board 26: Work In Progress: Incorporating Global Context into a Biomechanics Course through Service-learning Collaboration

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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


Sarah Ilkhanipour Rooney University of Delaware Orcid 16x16

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Sarah I. Rooney is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program in the Biomedical Engineering department at the University of Delaware, where she seeks to bring evidence-based teaching practices to the undergraduate curriculum. She received her B.S.E. (2009) and M.S.E. (2010) in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and her Ph.D. (2015) in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Krystina Callahan


Kimberly L. Bothi University of Delaware

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Dr. Kim Bothi has a multidisciplinary background in engineering and social sciences, with research and consulting experience across a range of developing country contexts. She earned a Ph.D. in global community-based resource management from Cornell University (2012), and holds earlier degrees in environmental engineering from Cornell (MS, 2007) and McGill University (BSc.Eng., 2000). As Director of Global Engineering in the University of Delaware's College of Engineering, Kim is responsible for expanding opportunities for students, staff and faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary, globally-minded research and academic programming. In 2016 and 2017, Kim co-led UD’s Mandela Washington Fellowship Civic Leadership Institute as part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. She advises the UD student chapter of Engineers Without Borders, which links student teams with community partners abroad to implement sustainable engineering projects.

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Work In Progress: Incorporating Global Context to a Biomechanics Course through Service-Learning Collaboration

ABET, the accrediting body for engineering programs, expects undergraduate engineering programs to prepare students in “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global […] context” (outcome h). Global engineering skills are critical to prepare students for the realities of American competitiveness in global markets (Jesiek & Beddoes, 2010), and to build students’ interdisciplinary, cross-cultural capacities to tackle grand challenges, a sentiment enthusiastically supported by over 120 engineering deans in a letter to President Obama in 2015 (NAE, 2015). Biomedical engineering undergraduate curricula often have little room to add stand-alone courses in global engineering, and instead, these topics may be addressed through core courses. Here we present a unique framework to develop and implement globally-minded curricular tools in a biomechanics course. Our goal was to combine the global expertise of members of the student service learning organization, Engineers without Borders (EWB), with traditional statics and mechanics content to develop problems that would 1) help students identify the relationship between engineering concepts and global challenges, 2) help students understand how engineers can contribute to solving complex, global challenges, and 3) increase student interest in global engineering applications.

In Fall 2016, 1 honors student enrolled in Bioengineering Mechanics collaborated with members of EWB to develop two statics/mechanics homework problems inspired by current EWB projects: supporting a bucket of water on one’s head and carrying supplies on a shoulder yoke in the developing world. These two homework problems were implemented in Fall 2017.

Students enrolled in Bioengineering Mechanics in Fall 2017 completed a pre- and post-survey to assess the above goals. After completion of each homework problem, students were also asked to complete a survey on how effective that problem was in addressing the above goals.

On the first homework problem, 90% of respondents agreed (strongly or somewhat) that the problem helped them understand how engineering statics/mechanics concepts apply globally to real-world scenarios. 85% agreed that the problem helped them understand how engineers contribute to solving global challenges. The majority (62%) agreed that the problem increased their interest in global applications of engineering. Remaining results will be compiled by January 2018. An additional 15 honors students currently enrolled in Bioengineering Mechanics are collaborating with EWB students to create their own globally-focused application of statics and mechanics concepts. Survey responses will be compared between those enrolled and not enrolled in honors.

In conclusion, we provide a framework to develop engineering problems with global context through a unique collaboration between biomedical engineering faculty and students and the student chapter of Engineers without Borders.

References: 1) ABET Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs, 2017-2018 available at 2) Jesiek, B. K. & Beddoes, K. (2010) “From Diplomacy and Development to Competitiveness and Globalization: Historical Perspectives on the Internationalization of Engineering Education” 3) National Academy of Engineering (2015) Letter to Obama “Educating Engineers to Meet the Grand Challenges” available at

Rooney, S. I., & Callahan, K., & Bothi, K. L. (2018, June), Board 26: Work In Progress: Incorporating Global Context into a Biomechanics Course through Service-learning Collaboration Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29994

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