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Survey of U.S. Biomechanics Instruction

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Innovations in Upper-level Biomedical Engineering Courses

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Page Numbers

26.1446.1 - 26.1446.16



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Paper Authors


Anton E. Bowden Brigham Young University

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Anton E. Bowden is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the BYU Applied Biomechanics Engineering Laboratory at Brigham Young University. His background and research interests are in spinal biomechanics, biomedical device design, computational biomechanics, and recently in engineering education. He received his PhD in Bioengineering from University of Utah and his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Utah State University. He is a licensed professional engineer and a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award. He is grateful to have been awarded the Weidman Professorship in Leadership and to have recently been recognized with BYU's Technology Transfer Award.

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Ruth Ochia P.E. Temple University Orcid 16x16

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Ruth S. Ochia received the B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, in 1992 and the Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, in 2000.
From 2000 to 2002, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center of Locomotion Studies, at The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA. From 2002 to 2006, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow and then Assistant Professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. From 2006 to 2009, she was a Senior Associate with Exponent, Inc. From 2009 to 2013, she was principal of RSO Consulting, LLC, and taught as an Adjunct Professor at Widener University, Chester, PA. Since 2013, she has been an Associate Professor with the Bioengineering Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Her research interests have included biomechanics, primarily focusing on spine-related injuries and degeneration. Currently, her interests are in engineering education, curriculum development and assessment.
Dr. Ochia is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).

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Dennis Lee Eggett Brigham Young University

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Dr. Eggett received his BS and MS in Statistics from BYU and his PhD in Applied Statistics from North Carolina State University. He worked in industry for ten years at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Since 1997 Dr. Eggett has been the director of the Center for Statistical Consultation and Collaborative Research in the Department of Statistics at Brigham Young University. His specialties include linear models and mixed model analysis.

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Survey of U.S. Biomechanics InstructionAlthough pioneering work in biomechanics dates back centuries, formal biomechanicsinstruction has only been a part of modem university education for the last several decades.Indeed, most biomechanics courses have arisen ad hoc based on the research experiences ofindividual faculty members. Anecdotally, teaching methods for biomechanics courses varysubstantially based on institution. The purpose of this work was to identify common practices,instructional techniques, and course materials that are being used in current engineeringbiomechanics courses (i.e., biomechanics courses associated with an engineering curriculum).This paper presents the results of a web survey sent to all known U.S. engineering instructorswho are currently or have recently taught a biomechanics course. Instructor contact informationwas obtained from openly available course information gleaned from U.S. university websitesand comprised of approximately 90 faculty members. We have already received an initial 28%response rate for the survey that was launched in early October 2014. We are also solicitingadditional responses via related nationally recognized and associated e-mail listserv services.Survey questions addressed: Course (student) demographics, instructor experience, coursestructure, resource material (including textbooks), satisfaction with course material, and topicscovered within the biomechanics course. No identifying information was collected fromparticipants and the study was classified as “exempt” following review by our institutionalreview board.Preliminary results indicate that there is tremendous diversity in terms of primary course materialused to teach engineering biomechanics, with over 15% of respondents not using any formaltextbook at all (i.e., using custom course material) and 33% of the respondents using basicmechanics textbooks that contain no biomechanical content. A large majority (78%) ofrespondents also indicated that they utilized secondary course material consisting of selectionsfrom other textbooks and articles from the primary literature.Topics from Bone Mechanics, Soft Tissue Mechanics, and Orthopaedic Biomechanics were mosthighly represented among current biomechanics courses, with each receiving an inclusion rate ofover 78%. Biofluid Mechanics, Vascular Mechanics, Respiratory Mechanics, Medical Imaging& Mechanics, Injury Biomechanics, and Biomedical Engineering Ethics were least represented,with each receiving less than a 25% inclusion rate.There was a significant correlation between the current research topics of the respondents and theincluded topics in their engineering biomechanics courses (Kendall’s Tau correlation test,p=0.44). However, notable outliers were seen in the areas of kinesiology (68% inclusion rate,but only a 33% research relationship), skeletal mechanics (63% inclusion rate, but only a 31%research relationship), and Medical Imaging & Mechanics (21% inclusion rate, with a 56%research relationship).In an open-response query in the survey, respondents identified three additional resources thatwould be most helpful in teaching their current biomechanics course: 1) a unified textbook, 2)sample and homework problems, and 3) descriptive laboratory experiments that can beaccomplishing using routine equipment.This study represents preliminary work identifying the "state of the practice" in terms ofengineering biomechanics education. We anticipate that the results will provide discussionpoints among biomechanics educators and hopefully lead to collaborative efforts to develop amore unified curriculu

Bowden, A. E., & Ochia, R., & Eggett, D. L. (2015, June), Survey of U.S. Biomechanics Instruction Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24783

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