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Effective Laboratory Exercises For An Introduction To Biomedical Engineering Course

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Mentoring, Outreach, & Intro BME Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.468.1 - 8.468.9

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Paper Authors

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Luke Herbertson

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Daniel Cavanagh

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

Session 1609

Effective Laboratory Exercises for an Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Course

Daniel P. Cavanagh, Luke H. Herbertson

Biomedical Engineering Program & Chemical Engineering Department Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA


In introductory biomedical engineering courses, students are commonly exposed to a range of topics which present the medical application of fundamental engineering concepts. Supplementing classroom discussions with effective, introductory laboratory exercises serves to further enhance the efficacy of these courses. At Bucknell University, we have devised a series of laboratory experiments for our introductory course which is targeted for first-semester sophomore engineering and science students. Here we present two experimental laboratory exercises that have been designed to provide students with hands-on experiences in the areas of biotransport and biomaterials. For the biotransport laboratory, we have designed, constructed and implemented a hemodialysis simulation unit. This system consists of a recirculating “blood” side consisting of an ionic aqueous solution, a single-pass “dialysate” flow path utilizing deionized water, commercial hemodialyzers and various pressure and flow tranducers. With the system, students are able to analyze the effects of solute concentrations, flow rates, transmembrane pressure gradients and flow directions on the clearance of solutes from the “blood” side. This laboratory exercise promotes a better understanding of fundamental mass transfer as related to kidney dialysis. In the biomaterials laboratory, students utilize common tensile testing machines to analyze the tensile and stress-relaxation behavior of a synthetic biomaterial and a biological material. These reliable and repeatable experiments serve to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the two materials. This material testing exercise also encourages the students to begin to grasp design constraints which are important in biomedical research areas such as the development of artificial skin and tissue engineering. Overall, these introductory level experiments provide both engineering and science students with a valuable, hands-on introduction to fundamental biomedical engineering concepts.


The growth of the Biomedical Engineering Program at Bucknell University over the past few years has required the development and implementation of new courses and laboratory exercises. One such course which required the development of new laboratory exercises was a new introductory course in biomedical engineering that was launched in fall 2000. This course is

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Herbertson, L., & Cavanagh, D. (2003, June), Effective Laboratory Exercises For An Introduction To Biomedical Engineering Course Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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