June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.1053.1 - 12.1053.10
MEDITEC: An Industry/Academic Partnership to Enable Multidisciplinary, Project-Based Learning in Biomedical Engineering
MEDITEC (Medical Engineering Development and Integrated Technology Enhancement Consortium) is an industry/academic partnership at California Polytechnic State University that matches multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate and masters-level engineering students with the project needs of biomedical device developers and provides the firewalled infrastructure to simultaneously work on the confidential projects of competing companies. The Project-Based context provided by the Consortium structure exposes engineering students to meaningful, real- world challenges. Industry provides the project topics and technical mentors, while projects are self-selected by students based upon a match with their background skills and educational goals. The educators (both academic and industrial) are present to assist as facilitators rather than as a primary source of knowledge, and students acquire skills essential to continue self-directed learning. This paper focuses on our experience during a recently completed pilot program, where projects have included creating soft tissue models for medical device development, automation of complex manufacturing processes, and development of prototype surgical tools. Successes and lessons learned will be discussed from both academic and industry perspectives. Preliminary results suggest that this model can be a powerful tool to meet the goals of future engineering education: moving the learning experience away from traditional lectures to include a significant level of active learning approaches, facilitating cooperative learning, the production of life-long learners, and the flexibility to include various learning styles. The paper concludes with a case study that illustrates the typical project-based learning “pipeline” in this model, whereby an engineering student forms an expanding relationship with a company and a multidisciplinary team through early, simple projects, progressing through an on-site industrial CO-OP and culminating with a team Senior Project or Masters Thesis.
Problem-Based Learning within a Multidisciplinary, Industrial Project-Based Context
As part of our newly-created Biomedical & General Engineering Department, it was our goal to implement Problem Based Learning (PBL) within a larger, industry project-based context. Based on our experience with the Biomedical Device industry as a key partner in establishing a new program and department, we approached industry sponsorship from a broader perspective than the traditional dollar-based definition. We see industry as providing an enabling set of resources for a growing curricular program: a source of truly multidisciplinary project topics, technical mentors, and supporting infrastructure that expose engineering students, working in teams across multiple disciplines, to meaningful, real-world challenges.
For PBL to be successful certain requirements must be met; we have found that a commercial product development environment is a natural fit to a major subset of these requirements. Companies that develop technology-based products, such as medical devices, are of particular value since creation of these products inherently involves multidisciplinary teams. The ideal environment is “CO-OP Plus”, where students are immersed in an industry environment working on challenging real-world problems under the mentorship of a practicing engineer (traditional
Crockett, R., & Whited, J., & Walsh, D. (2007, June), Meditec: An Industry/Academic Partnership To Enable Multidisciplinary, Project Based Learning In Biomedical Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1960
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