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The Forgotten Steps of Engineering Design: Design-Build Experiences and their Downstream Effect on Capstone Design Projects

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Design in BME

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William H. Guilford University of Virginia Orcid 16x16

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Will Guilford is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He is also the Undergraduate Program Director for Biomedical Engineering, and the Director of Educational Innovation in the School of Engineering. He received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from St. Francis College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and his Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Arizona. Will did his postdoctoral training in Molecular Biophysics at the University of Vermont under David Warshaw. His research interests include novel assessments of educational efficacy, the molecular basis of cell movement, and the mitigation of infectious diseases.

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Timothy E. Allen University of Virginia

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Dr. Timothy E. Allen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. He received a B.S.E. in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Allen's teaching activities include coordinating the undergraduate teaching labs and the Capstone Design sequence in the BME department at the University of Virginia, and his research interests are in the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics. He is also interested in evaluating the pedagogical approaches optimal for teaching lab concepts and skills, computational modeling approaches, and professionalism within design classes.

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Shayn M. Peirce University of Virginia

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I am Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia. I have joint appointments in the Department of Plastic Surgery and the Department of Ophthalmology. I have deep interest in studying the structural and functional adaptations of tissues, particularly the microvasculature, in both health and disease. My lab develops strategies to manipulate tissue growth and remodeling for the purposes of limiting tissue degeneration and enhancing tissue regeneration and wound healing. We combine agent-based computational modeling, in vivo imaging, and new experimental approaches to examine and control the multi-cell interactions involved in microvascular network patterning. We are particularly interested in learning how diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, affect angiogenesis and arteriogenesis in different tissues, such as skin, retina, and muscle. My research spans basic science discovery to the design of therapies for regenerative medicine. Current projects seek to exploit perivascular cells (pericytes), inflammatory cells (e.g. monocytes and macrophages), and tissue-resident stem cells to invoke tissue regeneration during acute and chronic inflammation. I collaborate extensively with clinician scientists and medical doctors, as well as other engineers, both at UVA and at other institutions. I teach graduate level and undergraduate level courses on cell and molecular physiology and computational systems biology. I am fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and past recipient of the MIT Technology Review TR100 Young Innovator Award and the Biomedical Engineering Society's Rita Schaffer Award.

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Various stages are ascribed to the engineering design process, but they typically include (1) problem identification, (2) research and conceptualization, (3) prototyping, (4) testing, and finally (5) iteration of some or all of steps 1-4. Design courses are often tasked with teaching all of these in the span of a single semester. The coverage is often biased; problem identification, research, and brainstorming are easily taught in a traditional classroom. Fabrication, testing, and iteration, in contrast, are often emphasized less. This is presumably due to the facilities, time, and material costs needed to execute these steps.

We posit that immersive design-build-iterate experiences are a vital part of early-year undergraduate engineering education, and that they can improve student outcomes in their major design experiences.

To test this hypothesis, we compared two years of fourth year capstone design outcomes in a biomedical engineering program. Students in this program take a required second-year course in biomedical design. In the control year of this study, the second-year students engaged in traditional design instruction that emphasized steps 1 and 2. Students themselves identified fabrication resources, and only one prototype was required. In the intervention year, students were instead engaged in design instruction that emphasized steps 3 through 5. Of particular note, these students were engaged for half the semester in hands-on fabrication of devices, and were required to prototype their design solutions twice to emphasize the importance of iteration.

We found that an immersive design-build-iterate experience in the 2nd year is associated with narrowly focused improvements in 4th year capstone design outcomes. Specifically, the built quality of the final prototype was improved in projects that focused on mechanical design, but these improvements did not extend to other types of projects or to other late steps in the engineering design process. We discuss our findings in terms of the spacing effect, and other means by which engineering design behavior might be reinforced.

Guilford, W. H., & Allen, T. E., & Peirce, S. M. (2017, June), The Forgotten Steps of Engineering Design: Design-Build Experiences and their Downstream Effect on Capstone Design Projects Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28970

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