June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
23.693.1 - 23.693.16
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
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