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Introducing Biomedical Engineering To Mechanical Engineers Through Thermal Design Projects

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering II

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.801.1 - 14.801.17



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Paper Authors


Craig Somerton Michigan State University

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Craig W. Somerton is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Undergraduate Program for Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He teaches in the area of thermal engineering including thermodynamics, heat transfer, and thermal design. He also teaches the capstone design course for the department. Dr. Somerton has research interests in computer design of thermal systems, transport phenomena in porous media, and application of continuous quality improvement principles to engineering education. He received his B.S. in 1976, his M.S. in 1979, and his Ph.D. in 1982, all in engineering from UCLA.

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

Introducing Biomedical Engineering to Mechanical Engineers through Thermal Design Projects

Introduction There is no question that an important part of the future of engineering will be in biomedical applications. Due to resources and/or politics many engineering schools cannot introduce an undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering. More and more of the graduates from the mechanical engineering program at Michigan State University go on to careers in the biomedical industry with companies including: Stryker, Eli Lilly, General Electric Medical, and Abbott. Though the mechanical engineering program has, for more than twenty years, required a life science course, it still faces the challenge as to how to provide its graduates with some biomedical background without displacing topics needed for more conventional mechanical engineering careers in energy, aerospace, or manufacturing. The Department has taken two approaches to address this issue. In the first approach the Department has created a Biomechanical Engineering concentration, which appears on the student’s transcript, and utilizes the four technical electives required in the mechanical engineering program. Over time, the faculty members of the department conducting biomedical research have developed courses in this discipline. These courses include Biofluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, Tissue Mechanics, and Biomechanical Design. Additionally, students involved in undergraduate research in Biomedical Engineering may take the department’s independent study course. Also, there are also several biomedical engineering courses offered by other departments that may be used. The requirements for the Biomechanical Engineering concentration for the BSME are shown in Figure 1.

The second approach, the focus of this paper, which has been implemented, involves the utilization of biomedical engineering projects in a traditional thermal design course. This paper continues with a brief description of the ME 416 course. This is followed by detailed project descriptions. Results of these projects, including student performance results will then be presented. Next, student reaction to the biomedical engineering theme is discussed through a survey that was administered. The paper concludes with lesson learned observations and recommendations for implementation.

About the Course ME 416, Computer Assisted Design of Thermal Systems, is a 3 credit, senior level course that serves as a design elective in the mechanical engineering curriculum. It has a typical enrollment between 35 and 55 students. The course meets three lecture hours a week and two computer lab hours. The lectures are taught by a faculty member, while the computer lab is supervised by a graduate teaching assistant. There are three course goals for the course:

1. Development and practice of design skills as they apply to thermal systems. 2. Development of modeling skills. 3. Development and refining of computer skills

Somerton, C. (2009, June), Introducing Biomedical Engineering To Mechanical Engineers Through Thermal Design Projects Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4664

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