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Exploratory Examination of an Interdisciplinary Engineering Field: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 16: Faculty Development and Teaching Contexts

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Cassandra Sue Ellen Woodcock University of Michigan Orcid 16x16

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Cassandra (Cassie) Woodcock is a pre-candidate doctoral student at the University of Michigan. She is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering with and Emphasis in Engineering Education. Her research interests involve interdisciplinary engineering programs and the professional, personal, and academic outcomes of students engaged in these programs. She is also involved in student outcomes research focused on graduate student beliefs on learning and teaching. Cassie received a B.A. in Engineering Sciences at Wartburg College (Waverly, IA).

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Nicole Erin Friend University of Michigan

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Nicole Friend is currently a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S in Bioengineering: Biosystems from the University of California, San Diego in 2017. Nicole's research interests are centered around regenerating vasculature in ischemic environments. Nicole is also interested in more broadly defining the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to inform curriculum design and student career trajectories.

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Aileen Huang-Saad University of Michigan

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Aileen is faculty in Engineering Education and Biomedical Engineering. Previously, Aileen was the Associate Director for Academics in the Center for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for building the Program in Entrepreneurship for UM undergraduates, co-developing the masters level entrepreneurship program, and launching the biomedical engineering graduate design program. Aileen has received a number of awards for her teaching, including the Thomas M. Sawyer, Jr. Teaching Award, the UM ASEE Outstanding Professor Award and the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award. Prior to joining the University of Michigan faculty, she worked in the private sector gaining experience in biotech, defense, and medical device testing at large companies and start-ups. Aileen’s current research areas include entrepreneurship engineering education, impact and engaged learning. Aileen has a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate of Philosophy from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Aileen is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Beta Sigma Gamma.

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To produce engineers capable of meeting the needs of a rapidly evolving innovation economy, several interdisciplinary engineering programs (IDEPs) have been initiated by universities and institutions in the United States. Although different aspects of interdisciplinary engineering education are being examined by researchers, overall there is a lack of understanding related to learning outcomes specific to a given interdisciplinary field. Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TERM), a subset of biomedical engineering, is one such field where learning outcomes are unclear for students. Students graduating from these programs often express concerns about navigating the job market which may be attributed to lack of common understanding of TERM from an interdisciplinary curricular standpoint. TERM exemplifies a growing interdisciplinary field in which researchers from a variety of traditional disciplines, including engineering and physical sciences, collaborate to perform research focused on micro to macro-level fabrication and regeneration of tissues, making curricular efforts difficult to scope. Our presented work is an exploratory effort to understand the perceptions of TERM faculty about the field. We use qualitative methods to examine the research questions: 1) How do faculty working in the field of TERM define or describe engineering generally and tissue engineering more specifically? and 2) How do those definitions inform their emphasis on specific skills and concepts important in TERM as well as the role of engineers in the field? The rationale behind our work is to assess faculty perceptions of TERM from an interdisciplinary engineering education perspective. We used semi-structured interviews from 16 faculty working in TERM as our data source. We first employed purposeful sampling of faculty involved in TERM research at a large, R1 university in the Midwest to recruit 8 study participants. As those interviews were performed, we employed snowball sampling, asking participants to identify TERM researchers outside the university who they feel have insightful perspectives. Our overall participant sample included a mixed group of faculty regarding gender, ethnicity, experience, and institution type. We used recommended approaches for qualitative data analysis which involved open coding to develop a codebook, combination of similar codes into overarching categories, and identification of common themes within the categories. The analysis was performed by two researchers with appropriate measures taken to ensure the reliability and validity of the study. Our findings provide insights on faculty’s perceptions of TERM, their views on the role of engineers in TERM, and skills and concepts important for TERM students to grasp. We discuss these findings regarding their informative influence on future studies of TERM stakeholders related to interdisciplinary curriculum design in the realm of biomedical engineering and present implications for future examinations of IDEPs in engineering education.

Woodcock, C. S. E., & Friend, N. E., & Huang-Saad, A. (2019, June), Exploratory Examination of an Interdisciplinary Engineering Field: Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32801

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