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Re-designing Design: A Technology-enhanced Graduate-level Biomedical Design Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Education Programs in BME

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Paper Authors


Katherine E Reuther Columbia University

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Katherine E. Reuther, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University and the Assistant Director of the Columbia-Coulter Translational Research Partnership. She is is working on developing new instructional tools and programs to enhance graduate education in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She has spearheaded the development of a graduate-level Biomedical Design program that covers all aspects of the design process, including needs identification, concept generation, and commercialization. Dr. Reuther received her BS in Biomedical Engineering from The College of New Jersey and her Ph.D. in Bioengineering, specializing in Orthopaedic Biomechanics, from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Michael John Cennamo Columbia University

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Michael Cennamo is a Senior Educational Technologist at Columbia’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). He is also an instructor and doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia. Michael is currently designing both online and blended learning environments for Columbia faculty; his interest and passion lie in helping teachers to effectively use technology in their classrooms, both large and small. Michael lives in NYC.

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Tiffany Wen-an Guo Columbia University

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Tiffany Guo is a MD-PhD candidate at Columbia University. Her PhD is in biomedical engineering on the development and testing of point-of-care diagnostic devices for resource limited settings. She TAed for both a senior undergraduate and masters design course.

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Introduction. Biomedical engineering (BME) is an evolving discipline that involves collaboration among engineers, physicians, scientists and entrepreneurs, in academia and industry to provide interdisciplinary solutions to biomedical problems. During biomedical design, a range of strategies can be used to identify a problem and to generate and evaluate solutions. In the Department of BME, an established program exists for teaching biomedical design to undergraduates which culminates in our highly successful ‘Senior Design’ course. However, no specified design experience exists for our BME Master's students. Design courses are traditionally taught utilizing a textbook, lectures, and a team design project, with often limited time for interactions between teams and instructors in the classroom. Therefore, we saw a valuable opportunity to not only extend BME design education to our graduate students but also to redefine and enhance the approach to teaching BME design. Therefore, our primary objective was to develop an immersive graduate-level course in biomedical engineering design, utilizing an innovative technology-enhanced pedagogical approach.

Our Unique Approach. A graduate-level course in BME design was developed that incorporated a hybrid learning approach with core video lectures outside the classroom and collaborative in-class learning experiences, such as group exercises, case studies, coaching sessions, interactions with outside visiting industrial and entrepreneurial experts, and hands-on prototyping. In addition to the use of video technology, additional technological tools including project management and brainstorming/concept mapping tools were utilized to enhance team interactions, creativity, and organization. Assessment of course dynamics and effectiveness was achieved through the development and use of Critical Incident Questionnaires throughout the semester and Course Feedback Surveys at the midpoint and end of the semester.

Results. This technology-enhanced pedagogical approach allowed for students to have enhanced interaction with course materials, instructors, faculty, other students, and outside visiting industrial and entrepreneurial experts. Design concepts were introduced prior to class using short video lectures, allowing students to spend the majority of class time applying these concepts. Additional in-class time allowed for the course instructor, assistants, and visiting industry experts to provide individual support to student project teams by providing recommendations and guidance during coaching sessions. Lastly, more time was made available for significant hands-on prototyping and proof of concept testing in the laboratory. In addition to the use of video technology, the project management tool allowed for effortless progress tracking and centralization of team materials, which encouraged group collaboration and allowed students to gain real-world experience with project management software. The use of brainstorming and concept mapping tools allowed for enhanced creativity during the brainstorming process and also encouraged group collaboration.

Conclusion. This newly developed graduate-level design course provided students with an immersive real-world training in biomedical design. The technology-enhanced pedagogical approach allowed for students to have enhanced interaction with course materials and instructors, improving their learning experience and increasing their overall satisfaction with the course.

Reuther, K. E., & Cennamo, M. J., & Guo, T. W. (2016, June), Re-designing Design: A Technology-enhanced Graduate-level Biomedical Design Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26040

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