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Teaching Bioengineering To Freshmen At Ucsd

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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

Freshman Design and Other Novel Programs

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1347.1 - 12.1347.14

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Paper Authors


Michele Temple University of California-San Diego

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Michele M Temple is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. Her educational research interests include teaching evaluation, assessments, and course and curriculum improvement. Her teaching interests include physiology, tissue engineering, and introductory biomechanics.

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Peter Chen University of California-San Diego

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Peter Chen is a researcher and lecturer at UCSD and has been associated with the Bioengineering department since 1968 when he was an undergraduate. His research areas include human and animal microcirculation studies in health and disease for which he received the Malphigi Award, biomechanics of hip and knee joint implants, image processing procedures development, hemodynamics of blood substitutes and bioinstrumentation. He is the recipient of the Bioengineering department Teacher of the Year Award in 2005.

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Robert Sah University of California-San Diego

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Dr. Robert Sah (ScD, 1990, MIT; MD, 1991, Harvard) joined the UCSD Bioengineering faculty in 1992. He was promoted to Professor in 2001, and has served as Vice-Chair since 2002. Dr. Sah’s research is on the bioengineering of cartilage and joints in growth, aging, degeneration, and regeneration, with applications to diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of osteoarthritis. His research has been recognized by a Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, a Hulda Irene Duggan Investigator Award from the Arthritis Foundation, and two Kappa Delta Awards from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and he is a recipient of the Van C. Mow Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in 2006.

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

Teaching Bioengineering to Freshmen at UCSD


Several courses are now offered at UCSD in order to introduce freshmen students to Bioengineering. BENG 1, Introduction to Bioengineering, is designed to introduce students to bioengineering as a discipline and also to introduce them to the research activities in the department in a large lecture-style course format. Bioengineering faculty members speak about their research during the class sessions and teams of students explore a design project of their choice. BENG 87, Freshmen Seminars in Bioengineering, is offered to introduce students to aspects of bioengineering in a small interactive group setting with faculty. Faculty members offer seminars each quarter on topics of their choice, usually related to their research interests. Students select seminars on a topic of interest and are encouraged to share their ideas with faculty and other students during discussions. Both courses have proven to be successful in format and content. Students enjoyed the variety of topics that were presented, met the department faculty at an early stage, and were assisted in picking an area of focus within bioengineering. Since these courses were pass/fail, the students did not feel pressured at a vulnerable time in their college career, when they are transitioning to the demands of college courses. Group design project gave the students some experience with working on teams and performing background research necessary for research, and prepared them for other courses.


The bioengineering program at UCSD was founded in 1966 with an emphasis on biomechanics and microcirculation. It was established as a joint effort between the Department of Applied Mechanics and Aerospace Engineering and the School of Medicine. Initially, there were no specific courses offered in bioengineering, and undergraduate students took courses in math, physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, fluid mechanics and continuum mechanics to fulfill the major requirements. The formal Department of Bioengineering was established in 1994 with a growing undergraduate enrollment which is now ~1,000 students. Students can choose amongst four majors, Bioengineering, Bioengineering: Biotechnology, Bioengineering: Premedical, and Bioengineering: Bioinformatics. The Bioengineering and Bioengineering: Biotechnology majors are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). Because of the rapid growth in student entry into the Department as well as the breadth of career pathways, it was recognized that there was a need for students to be introduced to the Bioengineering faculty and research early in their academic career.

This need is well-established, and arises out of the need to satisfy student curiosity about the bioengineering discipline, to provide students with information about the department, and to instill in students the beginnings of much-needed technical survival skills. These first year courses can improve academic performance, stimulate interest and improve retention, and better prepare students for future coursework1-3. It is important that students acquire the qualities that prepare them to be successful engineers in the changing workplace, including the ability to work on and communicate with members of a multidisciplinary and professional team4-7. Developing familiarity with the profession enables students to decide whether their chosen major is well-

Temple, M., & Chen, P., & Sah, R. (2007, June), Teaching Bioengineering To Freshmen At Ucsd Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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