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The 'Invisible Handshake' Project as a Practical, Hands-on Experience in a Biomedical Electronics Class

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Hands-on Learning in BME

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Richard Goldberg University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Richard Goldberg is a research associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. He teaches several instrumentation courses and a senior design class. His primary interest is in rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology for people with disabilities.

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Most Biomedical Engineering (BME) programs include a class in introductory electronics. This can be an intimidating class for someone whose skills and interests shy away from the electrical engineering side of BME. To address this concern, our biomedical electronics class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill culminates in a practical, hands-on experience, called the Invisible Handshake project.

While the use of Project Based Learning (PBL) is well established, there are unique challenges to incorporating a comprehensive PBL experience that encompasses many different topics in electrical engineering, such as analog and digital electronics and data acquisition. This project incorporates all of the course material into a single design experience and helps students gain confidence in their design and troubleshooting skills.

In this project, the students design and build a system that has applications in biomechanics or other BME areas. The objectives of this project are to help students achieve the goals of the class by incorporating all of the course material into a single design experience; to be relevant and fun for the students; and to be personalized for each student so that their work reflects their own skills. For this project, students must design and develop analog and digital circuitry; implement data acquisition to a LabView program; and solder, test and troubleshoot the final circuit. The project culminates in a poster and demonstration session.

Assessment indicates that the project was successful in helping students achieve the goals of the class. Students completed a Likert scale survey before and after the project. These results were evaluated using an unpaired t-test and a p-value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results show that the project made a significant difference in students’ confidence in designing and troubleshooting analog and digital circuitry. The quality of the projects was impressive and the students clearly had a lot of fun, in spite of the many hours of hard work.

Goldberg, R. (2016, June), The 'Invisible Handshake' Project as a Practical, Hands-on Experience in a Biomedical Electronics Class Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26084

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