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Study Abroad in Ghana as a Tool in Task Identification for Bioengineering Capstone Design

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Capstone Design III

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1348.1 - 22.1348.13



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Paper Authors


Andrew Darling, Ph.D. Syracuse University

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Andrew Darling is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University. He instructs the Bioengineering Capstone Design and Quantitative Physiology courses. His research interests are biomedical manufacture and biomedical applications of computer aided design.

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Study Abroad in Ghana as a Tool in Task Identification for Bioengineering Capstone DesignStudy abroad course-work presents unique collaboration potential with capstone engineeringdesign, specifically as a source for student projects. Project-based instruction of bioengineeringcapstone design hinges upon engaging the students’ interest and commitment early in the courseof the project. Strategies to achieve this level of student commitment can include encouragingstudent-originated project ideas, seeking projects from real-world external clients in research andindustry, or offering instructor-originated projects orchestrated specifically to elicit studentinterest. Another alternative, offering student-originated engineering design projects derivedfrom study abroad courses, allows for practical projects with real-world applicability and anelement of the exotic to maintain student interest.In the Summer of 2010, two bioengineering students were sponsored to participate in a SyracuseUniversity Study Abroad program titled “Healthcare for All: Sustainable Design for HealthcareDelivery in Ghana.” The course, originated by the Syracuse University School of Architecture,focused on healthcare infrastructure for the developing world. In addition to the courseobjectives for that class, these two bioengineering students were tasked with identifyingproblems to be addressed with technical solutions in the bioengineering capstone design classtheir following semester. While abroad in Ghana, the students were able to perform backgroundresearch at teaching hospitals and rural clinics, and they had interaction with health professionalsand policy makers including the minister of health. In the subsequent semester, both studentsinitiated engineering design teams for their capstone projects, focusing upon the healthcare needsof the rural poor in developing nations. In addition to fostering task identification for relevantproblems in Ghana, the experience abroad provided ample information for task clarification,informing project constraints. Specifically, student projects were on “Broadly ApplicableSterilization Techniques in Rural Clinics” and “On-site Production of Sterile IV Saline Solutionfor Treatment of Diarrhoeal Disease.” With the experience of the students who had been abroad,the teams were able to make informed assumptions about materials available, limitations toutilities and maintenance, and presence and training of healthcare personnel at the communitylevel. This case study in collaboration between study abroad and capstone engineering coursessuggests great potential in engaging student interest in projects, providing projects with real-world applicability, and facilitating task clarification through extensive background knowledge.

Ph.D., A. D. (2011, June), Study Abroad in Ghana as a Tool in Task Identification for Bioengineering Capstone Design Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18477

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