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Teaching Medical Electronics to Biomedical Engineering Students: A Problem Oriented Approach

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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

BME Courses and Learning Activities

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1397.1 - 22.1397.20

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Paper Authors


Jorge E. Bohorquez University of Miami

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Dr. Bohórquez obtained his Bachelor degrees in electrical engineering and physics from Los Andes University (Bogotá, Colombia) in 1983 and 1984. After completing his Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. studies in the National Institute of Applied Sciences (Lyon, France), he joined the faculty of the Electrical Engineering Department of Los Andes University in 1992. There, he actively participated in the development of the “Studio Design Approach” for undergraduate students and performed research in the Biomedical Engineering Research Group. In 2003, he moved to the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Miami were directs the Biomedical Design and Instrumentation Laboratory and teaches Senior/Master Design Project, Biomedical Instrumentation, Microcomputer based medical instrumentation and Bio-signal processing. He mentors multidisciplinary teams of students, mainly interested in the design of novel bio-electric devices. In his teams he integrates students at different academic levels from undergraduate to Ph.D. In research he is affiliated with the Neurosensory Laboratory where he performs research in audiology, ophthalmology, anesthesia and neurology. Collaborating with researchers of the Miller School of Medicine, he develops and validates novel Electrophysiological diagnostic devices and methods.

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Ozcan Ozdamar University of Miami

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Dr. Ozcan Ozdamar, graduated with high honors in Electrical Engineering from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey in 1971 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois in 1973 and 1976, respectively. After six years of serving as faculty and researcher in Ankara and Chicago, he joined the College of Engineering at the University of Miami in Biomedical Engineering. He is currently Chairman and Professor of Biomedical Engineering with secondary appointments in Otolaryngology, Pediatrics and Neuroscience (graduate program). He regularly serves as a consultant to medical device industry and is the Director of Neurosensory Engineering Laboratory at the College of Engineering. His research interests include biomedical signal processing of brain waves and evoked potentials, neural networks, automated neuromonitoring and electrophysiological hearing and vision testing.

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Jonathon Anthony Toft-Nielsen University of Miami

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Jonathon Toft-Nielsen received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Miami in 2004. In 2007, he completed his M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Miami. Currently, he is working on a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Miami, where he is a part of the Neurosensory Laboratory. His research centers around obtaining high rate electrophysiological responses from the human retina. Additionally he assists in the preparation and teaching of several classes, including Microcomputer based medical instrumentation, Biomedical Measurements and senior design. He is currently scheduled to complete his Ph.D. in the summer of 2011.

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Teaching Medical Electronics to Biomedical Engineering Students: A Problem Oriented ApproachA significant number of graduates from Biomedical Engineering (BME) enter industry or enrollin graduate programs and are confronted with the challenge of developing electronic medicaldevice prototypes. These prototypes requires the integration of very diverse technical skillsincluding analog and digital electronics, microcontroller hardware and software,telecommunications, power electronics and signal processing. The course investmenttraditionally used to foster and hone these skills is not practical in a four-year BME program,which has to cover all aspects of the discipline. In order to accommodate the broad nature of thecurriculum, and still equip BME students with the skills they will need in electronic medicaldevice prototyping, our program implements a problem oriented, top town approach to teachingmedical electronics. Two senior level courses are taught: Microcomputer Based MedicalInstrumentation and Medical Electronics Laboratory functioning as co-requisites. The firstcourse (3 Cr) is lecture based, while the second (2 Cr) is a hands-on laboratory.A problem oriented methodology has been adapted to help the students integrate the very diverseand complex topics. The development of a realistic biomedical prototype is used as a pathway tointegrate the many concepts. The teaching methodology incorporates previously taught basicconcepts (instrumentation, signal processing, and logic design, for example) and introduces anew set of skills (such as power electronics, microcontrollers, and wireless communication). Thecourse begins by presenting the students with an electronic device that will guide the learningprocess. The device is then broken down into the disparate structures common among allelectronic devices enabling the instructor to address the topics in a broader fashion. Toaccomplish the concept integration, the lectures and laboratory sessions follow the same logicalpathway mimicking the signal treatment in the device: Analog electronics (instrumentationamplifiers, protection circuits, amplifiers, filters and isolation amplifiers), analog to digitalconversion, power supplies (linear, switching and isolated), microcontroller hardware,microcontroller software, data communication and high level signal display and processing.Professional literature, in the form of application notes and datasheets is extensively used. Thestudents are trained about the interpretation of quantitative data presented in the datasheets and inthe difficult process of component selection. Hardware and software modules were developed forthe course; a detailed description of these modules and laboratory sessions will be presented inthe paper. In the last 4 weeks teams of students integrate and test an architectural alternative ofthe prototype. The instructors give specific roles and responsibilities to each team member inagreement with his/her individual strengths, revealed during the course. Thus far, the coursework has culminated in students developing a wireless electrophysiological device, but otherdevices, such as an optical coherence tomography device are being considered as alternative finalprojects for future students.The course objectives are assessed by student surveys at the end of the semester, by analysis ofthe final product and by its documentation. The courses have been available for two years withsatisfactory results as assessed by student and industry representative evaluations, exit interviewsand employment records. Figure 1: Conceptual Block Diagram – Simplified diagram of the disparate structures in electronic devices.Lectures and labs are designed around addressing function and implementation of the different blocks. In this example, taken from an actual lab, the focus (as outlined) is Power Electronics.

Bohorquez, J. E., & Ozdamar, O., & Toft-Nielsen, J. A. (2011, June), Teaching Medical Electronics to Biomedical Engineering Students: A Problem Oriented Approach Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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