Asee peer logo

Implementation and Assessment of a Curricular Module on the History and Philosophy of Reverse Engineering in Biological Systems

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Integrating Engineering & Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.693.1 - 23.693.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Dominic M. Halsmer PE Oral Roberts University

visit author page

Dr. Dominic M. Halsmer is former Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Oral Roberts University, and currently serves as the Director of the ORU Center for Faith and Learning. He has been teaching engineering courses there for 20 years, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma. He received B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and 1986, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 1992. He is currently pursuing an M.A. in Biblical Literature from Oral Roberts University. His current research interests involve contributions from the field of engineering to the current science/theology discussion, reverse engineering of natural systems, and the preparation of scientists and engineers for missions work within technical communities.

visit author page


Peter Wesley Odom Oral Roberts University

visit author page

P. W. Odom is currently an undergraduate student of Engineering Physics at Oral Roberts University. His intentions are to begin graduate work in modern physics and engineering after graduation with the eventual goal of obtaining a Ph.D. and becoming a professor of engineering and physics related courses. Areas of particular interest include research in electromagnetism, optics and relativity.

visit author page


Jessica Fitzgerald Oral Roberts University

visit author page

Jessica Fitzgerald is a Junior Engineering Physics major at Oral Roberts University. She currently works as a research assistant to Dr. Dominic Halsmer, Director of the Center for Faith and Learning at ORU. She is an honors student, and currently serves as the Resident Advisor on her floor.

visit author page

author page

Taylor Gipson Tryon Oral Roberts University

Download Paper |


Development and Implementation of a Curricular Module on the History and Philosophy of Reverse Engineering in Biological SystemsWith the current prominence of systems biology and the prevalent application of reverseengineering techniques to biological systems, there is wide recognition of the need, not only forproper methodology, but also for background information, which would serve to guide theseactivities, and help to place them in an appropriate context. The reverse engineering of biologicalsystems has a long and distinguished history, from Galen and DaVinci, to William Harvey andE.O. Wilson. In addition, consideration of the moral and philosophical underpinnings andimplications of such work provides biomedical engineering students with a useful arena in whichto wrestle with questions regarding how their academic discipline interfaces with their largerworldview.Under the direction of faculty members from engineering, biology and philosophy, a multi-disciplinary team of undergraduate honors students is developing a curricular module on thehistory and philosophy of reverse-engineering. In keeping with the mission of the institution,learning objectives and educational outcomes are carefully defined to assist with assessment ofstudent learning. This module is being implemented in a Biomedical Engineering Survey coursein the spring of 2013. Assessment activities are being conducted in an effort to determine ifobjectives and outcomes are being met. It is anticipated that both the students taking the course,and the students developing the curricular module, will significantly benefit from theseexperiences.Current engineering graduates will live and work in an age where humanity is in danger oftechnologically outpacing its ability to wisely implement such futuristic ideas. And yet, whobetter to lead this complex society than problem solving engineers who have been educated inthe history and wisdom of technological development. This is especially true in the field ofbiomedical engineering where strong leadership is needed to channel the vast expansion of newknowledge in a way that accomplishes the most good, and avoids the pitfalls resulting fromlimited human understanding. Combining historical and philosophical perspectives in systemsbiology allows students to view past technological achievements in a moral context, whichshould help them relate to current ethical dilemmas in biomedical engineering. It also providesstudents with a clearer understanding of reverse engineering techniques and the philosophicalimplications of the significant and repeated successes of such an approach in biology.

Halsmer, D. M., & Odom, P. W., & Fitzgerald, J., & Tryon, T. G. (2013, June), Implementation and Assessment of a Curricular Module on the History and Philosophy of Reverse Engineering in Biological Systems Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19707

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015