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Teaching A Hands On Biomedical Instrumentation Course Jointly At Two Institutions

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Instructional Methods and Tools in BME

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1142.1 - 13.1142.13



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Paper Authors


Richard Goldberg University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Richard Goldberg is a Research Assistant Professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Based at UNC, he is also the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the UNC BME program. He teaches several instrumentation courses and senior design. His primary interest is in assistive technology for people with disabilities.

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David Lalush North Carolina State University

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David Lalush is an Associate Professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Based at NC State University, he teaches biomedical signal processing to undergraduates in the bioinstrumentation concentration as well as graduate courses in biomedical imaging. His primary research interests are in X-ray and gamma-ray imaging in small animals and humans.

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

Teaching a hands-on biomedical instrumentation course jointly at two institutions


The Biomedical Engineering (BME) department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has taught a microcontroller applications course for many years. In this course, students learn how to program a microcontroller and interface it to hardware to develop biomedical instruments, such as a heart rate monitor and temperature sensor. With the development of a joint BME department at UNC and North Carolina State University (NCSU), the faculty realized that it would be beneficial to teach the class jointly at NCSU, as the students there needed more hands-on opportunities in biomedical instrumentation.

The class meets twice each week using videoconferencing equipment. Both classrooms are equipped with multiple screens for viewing video of the distant location, as well as sharing a computer desktop. Students work in the laboratory on weekly homework assignments and “mini- projects”, in which they program microcontrollers and develop biomedical instruments. The laboratories on each campus have equivalent hardware setups, as well as videoconferencing equipment so that faculty can help the students remotely. The primary teacher for this class is based at UNC, and he occasionally travels to NCSU to work with those students directly. In addition, a faculty member at NCSU is present for most classes, and he is available to provide assistance to the NCSU students outside of class. In this manner, the NCSU students have opportunities to get “in-person” help from a faculty member. Feedback on this experience was measured at mid-semester and at the end of the semester. This experience can serve as a model for teaching courses jointly at our universities as well as elsewhere.


The University of North Carolina (UNC) and North Carolina State University (NCSU) formed a joint department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in 2004. This resulted in a joint graduate program at UNC and NCSU. However, the undergraduate programs are currently separate.

Both undergraduate programs are relatively small but growing, and it is expected that the class of 2008 will have 22 students at UNC and 45 students at NCSU. Currently, the UNC program has a single “track” that has a bias toward instrumentation. The NCSU program has tracks in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Biomechanics, and Biomedical Instrumentation. Because of the small sizes of the programs, it is difficult to offer a large selection of upper level BME electives that the students can choose from. At NCSU, this is compounded by the fact that the 45 students are divided into three tracks, each requiring a different set of upper level electives to choose from.

Therefore, even though the two undergraduate programs are separate at this time, having a joint department provides an opportunity to increase course offerings through joint teaching of classes at the two institutions. This helps expand the number of available BME electives to students at both institutions, and makes efficient use of faculty resources by allowing them to teach students at both institutions simultaneously. Several courses have been taught this way since 2004, using

Goldberg, R., & Lalush, D. (2008, June), Teaching A Hands On Biomedical Instrumentation Course Jointly At Two Institutions Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3676

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