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Developing the Global Biomedical Engineer through a 12-Month International Undergraduate Research Experience in the U.S. and China

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Experiential Learning and Globalization in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.463.1 - 22.463.16



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Paper Authors


Barbara Burks Fasse Georgia Institute of Technology

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Barbara Burks Fasse is an educational psychologist and senior research scientist in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Dr. Fasse studies the efficacy and value of student-centered learning initiatives, specifically Problem-Based and Project-Based Inquiry Learning, in classrooms, instructional labs, and undergraduate research experiences. She joined the BME faculty in 2007 following ten years in Georgia Tech's College of Computing where she was a member of the NSF-funded Learning By Design™ Problem-Based Learning curriculum development and research project. She has also conducted an NSF-funded ethnographic study of learning in a problem-driven, project-based bio-robotics research lab at Georgia Tech. Dr. Fasse is a member of the Science Learning: Integrating Design, Engineering, and Robotics (SLIDER) interdisciplinary research team.

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Paul Benkeser Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Paul J. Benkeser received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1981 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1983 and 1985 respectively.
His current position is Professor and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Dr. Benkeser is an American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Fellow, a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and a senior member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

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Developing the Global Biomedical Engineer through a 12-month International Undergraduate Research Experience in the U.S. and ChinaThe AAAA Undergraduate Research Experience (AURE) is an NSF-funded researchproject offering undergraduate students three consecutive semesters of lab research,including an integrated international component. The goal of AURE is to provideundergraduate students with an international research experience that offers them a globalperspective on research challenges and opportunities in the field of biomedicalengineering while enhancing their skills in scholarship and innovation through research.An ancillary objective is to motivate students not only to enter graduate studies, but alsoto enroll in a graduate program with a strong international component. The lessonslearned from this research fall into two categories: those learned by the students and thoselearned by the program facilitators. We will address the student outcomes in this paper.Participating AURE PIs are engaged in cross-cultural collaborative research projectslinking the XXX Department of Biomedical Engineering at WWW Tech and YYYUniversity with ZZZ University (ZU) in China. AURE students commit to the project forone calendar year by beginning their research in January of the spring semester andcompleting it in December of the following fall semester. During the intervening summersemester, students work in partnering ZU labs and reside on its campus in City, China. Intheir “home” labs at WWW Tech or YYY in the U.S. a graduate students are tasked withpreparing them to begin the research here that they will continue in the collaborating ZUlabs in China. At ZU, intermediate goals should be accomplished to enable the students tosubsequently return to their home lab where they will complete the work during the finalof the three semesters. It was predicted that this process would support a year ofcontiguous research and facilitate communication between the partnering labs on eachside of the globe. This plan took a detour causing the research trajectory to be lessseamless than the students had anticipated—as was their adjustment to communal livingwith eight strangers and to the cultural contrasts between China and America. The AUREstudents achieved both personal and professional success through their struggles todeconstruct and solve the complex problems associated with negotiating life and work ina novel context. They gained knowledge, confidence, and pride in their accomplishmentsas interdependent individuals and as members of the global community as well as in theircapabilities as biomedical engineers. They began to define themselves as engineers astheir experiences crystallized their plans for the future into a tangible reality. The purposeof this paper is to discuss the challenges that the students faced and what they learnedfrom those challenges.The research reported in this paper uses case study design to learn from the first AUREcohort of nine WWW University BME students. The triangulated ethnographic datasources consist of weekly thematic journal entries, surveys, formal and informalinterviews, and field-notes from a weeklong XU site-visit four weeks after the studentsarrived in China. The AURE journal entries served as a series of real-time interviewsfocused around weekly themes.

Fasse, B. B., & Benkeser, P. (2011, June), Developing the Global Biomedical Engineer through a 12-Month International Undergraduate Research Experience in the U.S. and China Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17744

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