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Teaching Biomedical Engineering In A Nonspecialized Engineering Department: An Integrated Approach

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.408.1 - 1.408.4

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Arvind Ramanathan

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

Session 2309

Teaching biomedical engineering in a nonspecialized engineering department: an integrated approach

Arvind Ramanathan Department of Engineering, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA 91711


The engineering department at Harvey Mudd College offers unspecialized Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering. However, an engineering major may choose to emphasize a particular engineering specialty by an appropriate choice of three elective courses and two Engineering Clinic projects. Over the last few years, the department has witnessed a significant increase in numbers of both students interested in biomedical engineering (BME) as well as industry sponsored clinic projects in this field. “Introduction to Biomedical Engineering” is an elective course designed to introduce students to major areas of BME, to identify where their interest lies before deciding what they might pursue, either as professional engineers in industry or as graduate students. While the syllabus is intentionally broad, the breadth of topics covered in class is supplemented by a required class project in a specific area chosen by the student. Lectures cover areas of physiology, medical instrumentation, biomedical optics, biosystems analysis, biomechanics and biomaterials.


The Harvey Mudd College (HMC) catalog states “Based on the premise that the primary function of engineering is design, the engineering program provides broad-based knowledge and experience in synthesis as well as analysis. It is designed to prepare students for professional practice as well as advanced study in various engineering specialties.” An interdisciplinary approach to problem solving is the underlying theme of the curriculum. Students graduate with an unspecialized Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

A sequence of systems courses that unites all engineering fields under a common framework is at the core of the curriculum. This sequence integrates knowledge gained from a thorough background in engineering science and computer science while technical electives provide opportunity to study specialized areas in depth. In addition, professional experience that draws on this broad knowledge base is provided by challenging industry sponsored design problems in the engineering clinic. The clinic brings together teams of students to work on carefully selected projects under the monitoring and evaluation of professors. Thus the program is built around engineering science, systems, and design. It is believed that this broad engineering program is most likely to produce engineers capable of adapting to changing technology.

An engineering major may choose to emphasize a particular engineering specialty by appropriate choice of elective courses and engineering clinic projects. Specific programs tailored to individual needs are developed in consultation with an engineering advisor. Technical electives available to students in the engineering department until spring 1996 were in the areas of civil/structural engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, materials engineering, and mechanical engineering. Over the last few years

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Ramanathan, A. (1996, June), Teaching Biomedical Engineering In A Nonspecialized Engineering Department: An Integrated Approach Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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