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Laboratory Course Development for Biomedical Signals and Systems

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2019 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


California State University, Los Angeles , California

Publication Date

April 4, 2019

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April 4, 2019

End Date

April 6, 2019

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PSW Section Meeting Papers - Disregard start and end time - for online paper access only

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Pacific Southwest Section Meeting Paper Submissions

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Benjamin Hawkins Cal Poly, SLO Orcid 16x16

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My professional interests focus on the development and use of microsystems (biosensors, microcontrollers, etc) to matters of human health. Primarily this is focused on microfluidics, but also ranges from wearable devices to laboratory equipment. Applications range from cell measurements to ecological questions.
Educationally, I am focused on developing courses and content that connects theory to technology in practice, with an emphasis on rigorous understanding of both.

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James Eason Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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We have developed a MATLAB-based set of laboratory experiences for junior level undergraduate students in Biomedical Engineering that focuses on integrating foundational knowledge outside the discipline in to a systems analysis focused set of exercises. Biomedical Engineering curricula tend to focus on a breadth of topics and require the development of significant foundational knowledge outside of core program courses. This often leads to program sequences where students don’t interact with major specific courses until their junior year. Students, at this stage, have likely organized knowledge in to isolated “silos”; considering the topics they learned in math, physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, and programming as separate and non-overlapping sets of information. In developing content for their first junior level course in Biomedical Engineering (BMED 310: Biomedical Measurement and Analysis) and the associated lab, a focus was placed on universal systems analysis themes with broad scope and deep applicability. The result is a sequence of “systems and signals” focused exercises that drive students to integrate and apply knowledge and skills from math, electrical engineering, computer programing, biology, and chemistry to problems of biomedical relevance. An example of this systems analysis approach coupled with biomedical application is a sequence of lab exercises where students create a mathematical model system for glucose and insulin response in the body. Initially, the model is developed as a linear system and solved using circuit analysis techniques. Nonlinearities are subsequently introduced, and the solution method is developed numerically. Finally, students are tasked with designing a PID controller for an external insulin pump to modulate blood glucose concentration. Throughout this development students study system response behaviors such as resonance, time-constants, transfer function, frequency response, and feedback control. They learn to analyze system behavior while developing and applying skills from previous courses in biology, chemistry, calculus, electric circuits, and computer programming.

To date, 3 cohorts of students have engaged with this module. Each cohort is between 50 and 75 students and composed of primarily third-year Biomedical Engineering students, with a small fraction of Electrical Engineering students. The demographics reflect those of the Biomedical Engineering program, with approximately 55% female students. Initial results indicate that students develop significant ability to work with MATLAB as an engineering tool and enter following coursework better prepared to apply prerequisite materials. In a qualitative self-assessment, participating students indicated that the activities could have better reinforced lecture content, but successfully improved their ability to apply MATLAB analysis tools and successfully applied and improved understanding of prerequisite material.

Hawkins, B., & Eason, J. (2019, April), Laboratory Course Development for Biomedical Signals and Systems Paper presented at 2019 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, California State University, Los Angeles , California.

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