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Integrating External Mentors Into Bme Senior Design

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design in the BME Curriculum

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.764.1 - 13.764.12



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Paper Authors

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Joe Tranquillo Bucknell University

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Donna Ebenstein Bucknell University

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James Baish Bucknell University

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William King Bucknell University

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Daniel Cavanagh Bucknell University

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

Integrating External Mentors into BME Senior Design Introduction To build strong independent design skills, our department exposes students to more and more open-ended projects through our curriculum. The culminating experience is a two- semester, team-based senior capstone project, mentored by external biomedical experts and advised by faculty within the department. The single most important goal of the capstone experience is for students to function as biomedical engineers in a realistic medical setting. The unique aspects of our approach are: 1) the relationship between the external mentor and students and 2) the process of identifying and defining the capstone problem. Rather than beginning the capstone with a pre-defined problem, the students work with the mentor in his or her medical setting (e.g., operating room, clinic) to identify several relevant, biomedical challenges. The students then work with input from the mentor to choose the problem that is best suited for the design project. The students are responsible for framing this medical problem as an engineering problem. A great deal of emphasis is therefore placed on the problem identification and definition as critical steps that occur before the design process begins. In the remainder of the capstone the external mentor serves as a member of the design team and is a frequent contributor to the design process. Here we report our initial experiences on the important role external mentors play in senior capstone. The course structure and roles of the members of the design team are outlined, followed by an assessment of our model.

Course Structure Overview To prepare for senior design all juniors are required to take a half semester course that covers device benchmarking, the FDA, patents and intellectual property, teamwork, environmental impact, and formal decision making. In the senior design sequence the focus is on the design process in the first semester a functional deliverable in the second semester. As the content and sequence of our capstone experience is similar to other programs, this paper will focus on the impact of external mentors on our design capstone. Although the design process is presented below in a linear fashion, students are expected to return to different stages of the design process based upon feedback from their faculty advisor and external mentor.

Fall Semester Senior Year In the fall semester, seniors interact regularly with an external mentor to identify a medically relevant problem, gather relevant background information, develop specifications, generate a list of alternative solutions, and finally select and justify a solution.

Problem Identification and Definition The process of problem identification begins early in the semester at a meeting between the students and external mentor. After this initial meeting, the students will typically spend time with the mentor in his or her professional setting (e.g., clinic, operating room) observing and gaining exposure to the environment. These meetings and experiences allow the students to both ask the mentor to list and explain significant problems he or

Tranquillo, J., & Ebenstein, D., & Baish, J., & King, W., & Cavanagh, D. (2008, June), Integrating External Mentors Into Bme Senior Design Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3481

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