June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.765.1 - 15.765.13
Integrating Hands-On Design Experiences into the Curriculum Abstract
In many Biomedical Engineering (BME) programs, design is a key component throughout the curriculum. This may involve a combination of design problems on paper, a reverse engineering project, education in design methods, and hands-on fabrication experiences. In the BME program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, our goal is to also provide more hands-on design opportunities in the laboratory and machine shop. We accomplished this by creating new courses for a “design sequence” and by collaborating with an existing, required course.
The design sequence consists of four courses that span the final three years of the curriculum. In the first two classes, typically taken in the second and third years, the goals are to learn the basic design tools and manufacturing techniques for building biomedical devices, such as a rotating cell culture bioreactor. In the process, students learn how to use a variety of tools and equipment in the student machine shop, including computer aided design software, a 3-D fusion deposition modeler, laser cutter, mill, lathe, and a variety of hand and power tools.
The third design course is taken in the fall of senior year, and it is taught in conjunction with a required class in control systems. This gives students a chance to apply the theoretical material that they are simultaneously learning in control systems. For example, this year each student group developed a robot arm system controlled by a biopotential signal, such as an EMG or EOG, that they acquire from their own body and process. For the fourth design course, each group works on a different project, chosen from a wide variety of project ideas that change from year to year.
This design program has many benefits. By the time students start their final design project in the spring of senior year, they already have a number of hands-on experiences in design. This elevates the level of what they can accomplish for this project. In addition, since our students start getting experience with equipment in the machine shop in their sophomore year, they are an attractive asset for many research laboratories. Feedback from students indicates that these hands-on experiences were fun and beneficial for them.
In engineering design courses, students have an opportunity to consider an open-ended problem and develop an original design to address the need. In fact, design and development “is what most distinguishes engineering from science, which concerns itself principally with understanding the world as it is”. 1 As a result, many programs have emphasized design in a number of ways, for example by incorporating design courses for first year students and throughout their curriculum.2-3 In recent years, many papers at the ASEE conference have been devoted to presentations on this topic, including an entire session in 2009.4-9
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we have a small but growing program in Biomedical Engineering (graduating 32 students in May 2010). When the faculty first developed
Goldberg, R., & Dennis, R., & Finley, C. (2010, June), Integrating Hands On Design Experiences Into The Curriculum Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16220
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