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Using Guided Design Instruction to Motivate BME Sophomore Students to Learn Multidisciplinary Engineering Skills

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Design in the Curriculum

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1331.1 - 24.1331.17



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Paper Authors


Amit Janardhan Nimunkar University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Amit J Nimunkar received his B.E. in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai, India in 1999, M.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio in 2000 and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin in 2009. He is currently the Associate Faculty Associate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His teaching specialty is on the topic of Biomedical Engineering Design and Bioinstrumentation and has taken initiative to develop hands-on blended learning based courses on the same topics. His research interest is on global health and engineering and currently working on projects in Honduras, Ethiopia, India and Vietnam. He has received the Recognition Award for Achievement in Global Engaged Scholarship in 2013 through the Wisconsin Without Borders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Professor of the Year Award in 2012, through the Biomedical Engineering Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a number of teaching awards.

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John P. Puccinelli University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Dr. Puccinelli is an Associate Faculty Associate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He began here as student near the start of the UW-BME program and earned his BS, MS, and PhD in BME. He is interested in hands-on instruction – teaching and developing courses related to biomaterials and tissue engineering, as well as design. He was awarded the BMES Student Chapter Teaching Award in 2011 and 2013 and the Polygon Outstanding BME Instructor Award in 2012.

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Matthew S. Bollom


Willis J. Tompkins University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Willis J. Tompkins received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Maine at Orono in 1963 and 1965, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in biomedical electronic engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973. He is currently Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has been on the faculty since 1974. He previously served for five years as Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His teaching specialty is on the topic of computers in medicine, an area in which he has developed two courses. One of these two courses, he has evolved and taught for 40 consecutive years. He has received a number teaching awards including the University of Wisconsin Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Theo C. Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award from the Biomedical Engineering Division of the ASEE. His research interests include development of microprocessor-based medical instrumentation, on-line biomedical computing, and real-time computer processing of electrocardiograms. Dr. Tompkins is a Life Fellow of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), a Founding Fellow of the AIMBE (American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering), and an Inaugural Fellow of BMES (Biomedical Engineering Society). He is a past President of the IEEE EMBS (Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society) and a past Chair of the ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division. He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin.

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Using a Guided Design Project to Motivate BME Sophomore Students to Learn Multidisciplinary Engineering SkillsBiomedical Engineering (BME) students at our university participate in team-based designthroughout the curriculum (six-semesters). These are hands-on, client-based, real-worldbiomedical design problems solicited from healthcare professionals, local industry, communitymembers, and life sciences and clinical faculty. Through the design process, the students learn avariety of professional skills on topics such as engineering notebooks, written and oral reports,engineering ethics, intellectual property, FDA approval, and animal/human subjects testing. Thestudents also have the opportunity to learn various technical skills such as computer aideddesign, finite element analysis, machining/fabrication, electronics and electrical measurementand design, LabVIEW, MATLAB and microcontroller programming, mechanical testing, andbasic laboratory techniques related to biomaterials and tissue engineering as needed. As ourstudent population has grown, there has been an increasing challenge to informally andeffectively teach our students these cutting-edge skills that will enable them to be betterengineers. In addition, our BME Student Advisory Committee (BSAC) has expressed interest inhaving more formal, directed training in a guided fashion early in the curriculum.In order to effectively teach these important professional, technical, and life-long skills, wedeveloped a new sophomore-level lecture and laboratory-based course BME201, “BiomedicalEngineering Fundamentals and Design”, and offered it for the first time in Spring 2012. TheBME201 course in its new format has been taught twice so far. The weekly lecture focuseddirectly on professional skills, and introduced the students to the department’s five areas of study(bioinstrumentation, biomedical imaging, biomechanics, biomaterials/cellular/tissue engineering,and healthcare systems) from lectures by faculty in those areas. These lectures were recorded sothat the lecture time can be repurposed for a more blended learning experience in futureofferings.The weekly laboratory period focused on directly training the students in technical skills (such asthose listed above previously offered on an ad hoc basis) to solve a multidisciplinary guideddesign project utilizing those skills in teams. These laboratories were designed and taught (inconjunction with BME faculty instructors) by undergraduate BME student assistants (SAs),allowing them to gain teaching experience while giving our sophomore students an opportunityto learn from and interact with their peers. The guided design project required the student teamsto incorporate the knowledge and hands-on skills they learned during the semester to design andfabricate a bioreactor to measure the mechanical properties of soft biomaterials that theysynthesized. Throughout the project, the students maintained design notebooks, prepared designspecifications, created and presented oral presentations, and communicated their design andresults by preparing a technical report.As this is the only course where all sophomore BME students are together, we had the uniqueopportunity to teach them in an open forum led by their upperclassmen peers. Through thismultidisciplinary, blended, hands-on approach, the students now have the skills they need earlyin the curriculum to be successful in their future projects, to make informed decisions about theirBME area of study and careers, and to enable them to become better engineers.

Nimunkar, A. J., & Puccinelli, J. P., & Bollom, M. S., & Tompkins, W. J. (2014, June), Using Guided Design Instruction to Motivate BME Sophomore Students to Learn Multidisciplinary Engineering Skills Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23264

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