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Meditec: An Industry/Academic Partnership To Enable Multidisciplinary, Project Based Learning In Biomedical Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Tools in Teaching and Learning Biomedical Engineering Concepts

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1053.1 - 12.1053.10

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Paper Authors


Robert Crockett California Polytechnic State University

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Robert Crockett received his Ph.D. from University of Arizona in Materials Science and Engineering. He holds an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Crockett is a specialist in technology development and commercialization of advanced materials and manufacturing processes. Prior to joining Cal Poly, he was founder and President of Xeragen, Inc., a San Luis Obispo-based biotechnology startup company. He has also served as an Assistant Professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering and was employed by McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company, where he was a lead engineer and Principal Investigator on projects to develop technology evolution plans for the Space Station.

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Jon Whited St. Jude Medical

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Jon Whited graduated from San Diego State University with a BS in Engineering Management. He is currently Manager, University Relations and Recruiting for
St. Jude Medical, Cardiac Rhythm Management Division. He has worked as a Software Test Manager and Systems Test Manager for General Electric Space Systems and as Manager of Software Product Assurance for TRW’s military space programs. Mr. Whited has developed engineering recruiting programs with universities through Co-Op programs, Sr. Projects, offering students the opportunity to take St. Jude Medical e-learning classes in clinical applications for engineers, and providing jobs on campus as University Associates to work on St. Jude Medical projects.

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Daniel Walsh California Polytechnic State University

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Daniel Walsh is currently Department Chair for Biomedical and General Engineering, and Professor of Materials Engineering at the College of Engineering at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He received his B.S. (Biomedical Engineering), M.S.
(Biomedical Engineering) and Ph.D. (Materials Engineering) degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Prior to joining Cal Poly, Dr. Walsh was employed by General Dynamics Corporation, as a principal engineer and group leader in the Materials Division.

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

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.

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