June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Discussions regarding the identity of Biomedical Engineering (BME) have been on-going since its inception as a profession over 50 years ago. Recently, these conversations have taken on increased importance in response to calls for improving BME undergraduate education, especially for students interested in industry work after graduation. At last year’s ASEE Annual Conference, Biomedical Engineering Division programming concluded with a discussion of how the lack of a universal BME identity contributes to uncertainty on the part of potential employers. The development of a coherent field identity is dependent on a shared understanding of the field by the major stakeholders, namely students, academic departments, accreditation bodies, national governing organizations, and industry partners / potential employers. Unfortunately, the perspectives of the foremost of these stakeholders have largely been ignored in conversations of cultivating a BME identity as no previous study has examined how undergraduate students define BME. Therefore, to contribute another important voice to these on-going conversations, this paper presents a qualitative analysis of definitions of BME written by 115 undergraduate students at a large R1 public university in the Midwest. In vivo qualitative coding and categorization revealed five main features of these definitions exemplified by “impact”, “design”, “apply/use”, “understand/combination”, and “undefined” labels. Comparison of pre-BME students (those who had not previously completed a core BME course) and within-BME students (those who had successfully completed at least one core BME course) showed a transition from an impact-focused definition of BME to a more application-focused definition. Within-BME students were also more likely to acknowledge the interdisciplinary nature of BME by including other fields beyond engineering in their definitions, most commonly medicine and biology. Finally, the results of the qualitative analysis are discussed in the context of ABET bioengineering/BME program-specific criteria to add to on-going work on how BME identity may be developed during an undergraduate program. This work represents an important initial step in addressing the alignment of stakeholder understanding of BME and also may have important implications for student recruitment and retention.
Ramo, N. L., & Huang-Saad, A., & Belmont, B. (2019, June), What is Biomedical Engineering? Insights from Qualitative Analysis of Definitions Written by Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33555
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