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Engineering Methods In Biomechanics: A Contextual Learning Strategy For Biomedical Engineering Pedagogy

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.440.1 - 6.440.9



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Paper Authors

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Mark Otter

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Ken McLeod

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Yi-Xian Qin

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Partap Khalsa

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Michael Hadjiargyrou

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Danny Bluestein

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

Session 2509

Engineering Methods in Biomechanics: A Contextual Learning Strategy for Biomedical Engineering Pedagogy

Partap S. Khalsa, Danny Bluestein, Mark Otter, Michael Hadjiargyrou, Yi-xian Qin, Ken McLeod State University of New York at Stony Brook


Undergraduates studying biomedical engineering can easily become overwhelmed by the science within their coursework and miss much of the engineering. To address this concern, an undergraduate course in biomechanics was developed consisting of six contextual learning modules (CLMs). Each CLM emphasized a different fundamental engineering concept or theme that included the following: safety, usability/functionality, buildability, optimization, adaptability, and reliability. All the biomechanical principles taught in a given CLM were focused on how those principles could be used to evaluate the given engineering concept in a biomechanical system. The class met twice a week for 80 min. per class, and each CLM was taught in four to five classes. In addition to assigned readings from their textbook (Fundamentals of Biomechanics, 2nd Edition, Springer-Verlag, 1999), students were assigned to do the relevant skill-based problem sets in the chapters, which were also supplemented with additional problems sets as needed. Each CLM concluded with a class period devoted to applying the newly taught skills to design a novel solution to a broadly-based biomechanics problem. The students were assigned to a design team, consisting of three to five individuals, and each team selected a problem from a list supplied by the instructor. The design teams worked in class to develop general solutions, which were presented orally during the later part of the class and were also critiqued by their classmates. After class, the teams worked on their own to develop specific quantitative solutions that were written up and handed in to be graded. Thus, the students were enabled to immediately use skills in biomechanics to address broad-ranging engineering questions.

I. Background and Introduction

Throughout the 1960’s, a shift in engineering curricula took place that focused engineering education towards more analytical techniques1. With dramatic developments taking place in the basic sciences, opportunities to introduce synthesis skills were displaced by the need to introduce new developments in mathematics, chemistry, materials, and of course, computer science. This represented a transition to the era of engineering science, an era which produced fine analytical

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Otter, M., & McLeod, K., & Qin, Y., & Khalsa, P., & Hadjiargyrou, M., & Bluestein, D. (2001, June), Engineering Methods In Biomechanics: A Contextual Learning Strategy For Biomedical Engineering Pedagogy Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9204

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