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WIP: A Vertically-integrated, Project-focused Approach to Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Education

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Intro to Biomedical Engineering and Vertically Integrated Curriculum (Works in Progress) - June 23rd

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Amber L. Doiron University of Vermont Orcid 16x16

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Amber Doiron is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Vermont with a research focus on nanoparticles for drug delivery and imaging. Previously she was an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Binghamton University. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Colorado State University in 2003, and she was an NSF-IGERT fellow while earning an M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. She was the T. Chen Fong Postdoctoral Fellow in Medical Imaging in the Departments of Radiology and Chemical Engineering at the University of Calgary. Dr. Doiron also served as the chief scientific officer at NanoPulse Biosciences LLC for four years.

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Jason H.T. Bates University of Vermont

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Dr. Jason H.T. Bates is a professor in the Department of Medicine in the Larner College of Medicine, University of Vermont. His research interests focus on respiratory biomechanics and the pathophysiology of lung disease.

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Ryan S. McGinnis University of Vermont

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Juan Jose Uriarte University of Vermont

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Niccolo M. Fiorentino University of Vermont

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Jeff Frolik University of Vermont

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Rachael A Oldinski

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Engineering solutions to current and future grand challenges are increasingly transdisciplinary. This is especially true in the field of biomedical engineering (BME), where advancements are often made at the interface of materials, electrical, mechanical, mathematical, and medical knowledge. Moreover, today’s biomedical engineers must be capable problem-solvers who are comfortable working in multidisciplinary teams within the design process. Traditional educational approaches, which leverage standard lecture-style dissemination of information with limited hands-on project and design experience, are not sufficiently preparing our graduates for success in the transdisciplinary, project-focused world. In an effort to address this shortcoming for our students, we propose a highly cross-disciplinary, project-based, and de-sign-focused undergraduate BME curriculum.

At our University, content that is currently taught across departments—such as dynamics in mechanical engineering, statics in civil engineering, and circuits in electrical engineer-ing—will be integrated into core BME courses that cover the critical engineering concepts with direct application to biomedical problems. These core courses will be taught by biomedical engineering faculty who have the training to work across the boundaries of traditionally siloed approaches to subject matter in order to promote development of the systems-thinking skills necessary for engineers. Furthermore, engineering design will be included in every year of the undergraduate curriculum to increase hands-on design experience, creative thinking, and pro-gram cohesiveness. All core BME course offerings will be project- and laboratory-based, with an emphasis on active learning and interdisciplinary perspectives on biomedical technologies.

Critical engineering concepts will be taught in three core BME courses of six credits each and four core BME design courses before the students culminate their educational experience with the BME capstone design course. BME Core 1 will comprise biomechanics, instrumentation, and sensors; BME Core 2 will comprise biophysics, biomaterials, and transport; and BME Core 3 will comprise modeling biological systems and signals. BME Design course 0 will provide the fundamentals of the design process and engage students with small team-based design projects motivated by the teaching and clinical needs of colleagues in our adjacent med-ical school. BME Design courses 1 and 2 will cover regulatory standards and validation testing, respectively, in coordination with case studies of BME capstone design. BME Design 3 will consist of small-scale team-based collaborations with capstone teams to aid in the transition into Capstone Design, which is required during the 4th year. An additional elective second capstone semester will focus on commercialization of BME technologies. Early feedback from students on the concept is positive, with one noting “integrating the design process into all four years of education will help to engrain realistic practices and prepare students for what we will be do-ing when we graduate, I wish I could go back and do it again!”.

We will be offering BME Design course 0 for the fourth time this academic year, and are developing infrastructure to support a Center for Biomedical Innovation (CBI), which will house the vertically-integrated design sequence. The CBI will be an internationally-recognized destination for the development of data-supported biomedical devices that address challenges in rural medicine as well as the training of future inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Experiential and active learning materials are being developed for the BME Core courses by the BME faculty with an eye towards heavily involving colleagues in our college of medicine in implementation. The medical school has fully transitioned to active learning, and the BME program seeks to join their efforts. These curricular changes are characterized as a Works in Progress and will be implemented starting in the fall of 2020 with a relaunch of the Biomedical Engineering Program within our home department. Data collection and assessment will be rigorously employed during implementation of this new program.

Doiron, A. L., & Bates, J. H., & McGinnis, R. S., & Uriarte, J. J., & Fiorentino, N. M., & Frolik, J., & Oldinski, R. A. (2020, June), WIP: A Vertically-integrated, Project-focused Approach to Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35521

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