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Toward Engineering-Oriented Health Informatics Education

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Academic Programs

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


D. Cenk Erdil Marist College Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Erdil is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Marist College. He has been designing and teaching general computer science courses for more than a decade. He has also contributed to the design and management of several computer science and engineering programs as a program coordinator. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, distributed resource scheduling, cloud computing for big data, public health informatics, and mHealth. Prior to joining Marist, he was an Associate Research Scientist at Columbia University Medical Center, working on research and implementation projects as a senior Information and Communication Technologies lead in various U.S. CDC-funded multi-year research grants in public health informatics. His current research grants study mobile data collection in cloud-based health informatics infrastructures.

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The need for informatics-trained professionals in health organizations has been ever-increasing. In addition, there is also a significant need to orchestrate data collection through informatics infrastructure, manage computing resources, store data, and operate network-enabled medical devices. In many medical fields, the overall need for supporting advanced medical devices with complex technological requirements is also exponentially increasing.

Existing undergraduate major and minor programs in health informatics does not adequately equip students with skills to address these challenges, mostly due to limited STEM-focused courses. There is an increasing gap between overall skill-set of graduating health informatics professionals, and the job requirements. It takes a long time to train these individuals on the field, and equip them with necessary informatics skills to address these challenges.

This skills gap has traditionally been addressed by employing graduates with computer science and engineering degrees. However, professionals with health informatics degrees, and computer science and engineering degrees each approach problems differently from their particular perspective(s), and resulting multidisciplinary teams can only provide short-term solutions. Thus, resulting data architectures and support infrastructures are both inefficient and incomplete in most cases.

This article provides a basic analysis of existing health informatics undergrad- uate major programs, and proposes a more STEM-focused, engineering-oriented degree options to complement these programs to help narrow the skills gap. In particular, we argue that at least some of the health informatics professionals on-the- field should be provided opportunities—during their undergraduate education—to (i) have hands-on coding skills at more advanced levels, (ii) be aware of how to orchestrate data and computational infrastructures, and (iii) know about contemporary tools and methods analyze large datasets efficiently.

Erdil, D. C. (2016, June), Toward Engineering-Oriented Health Informatics Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27057

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