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WIP: Enhancing Student Understanding of Impact Dynamics Using a Jupyter-Based Simulation Tool for Injury Analysis

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Division Poster Session (Works in Progress)

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Nicholas J. Caccese CBE Consultants, Inc.

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Mr. Nicholas Caccese is a Technical Associate at CBE Consultants, Inc. Mr. Caccese is gaining experience applying biomechanics to a variety of real-world problems, including: automotive collisions; falls from various heights and in various orientations; impacts from falling objects; injuries resulting from the misuse of a variety of devices; and amusement ride verification. After completing an M.S. and B.S. program in Biomedical Engineering at Temple University, Mr. Caccese began his consulting career in 2019. Mr. Caccese utilizes his knowledge to assist in investigating and assessing the forces, accelerations, and motions experienced by the human body. Mr. Caccese is also developing the ability to review medical records for the purpose of assisting in the evaluation of the extent, distribution, and severity of injuries and the past medical history as it relates to the biomechanical analysis and claims, while assessing the biomechanical forces that could lead to the causation of any claimed injuries. He also has experience reviewing a variety of different imaging modalities, including Fourier Transform Infrared Imaging Spectroscopy (FTIR-IS) for evaluation of various biomedical samples and constructs, with an educational background in CT and MRI imaging. Mr. Caccese’s research interests include the anthropometry of device usage, computational modeling of different bodily systems, and statistical evaluation of varying data sets.

As a consultant, Mr. Caccese applies his knowledge to assist with the analyses of injury causations and accident reconstructions for a variety of projects. He assesses whether motions, accelerations, and loads can cause injury, and his experience includes contributing to analyses and reconstructions of motor vehicle crashes; sports, and occupational injuries; and falls. He also contributes to biomechanical analyses of incidents involving consumer devices, including rolling knee walkers and hydraulic lifts, and amusement devices, including roller-coasters and water rides. He has contributed to the evaluation of biomechanical issues and injury potential associated with alternate scenarios, such as changes in design or safety equipment.

Prior to his consulting career, Mr. Caccese was employed by the research labs of Temple University’s Bioengineering Department. His areas of research included: developing modules for an image tracking system to allow for computer assisted control of experiments into mechanics of animal locomotion response; culture, verification, and validation of multiple different cell lines; and design of devices to automate laboratory protocols for a research environment. In addition to his research, he operated as the assistant lab manager where he coordinated certifications, trainings, and logistical concerns for approximately 30 members across four different research groups and completed maintenance of shared laboratory equipment. He also was a founding member of the Temple University Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) student chapter and acted as the secretary and vice president over the course of his undergraduate studies.

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Robert S. Cargill II P.E. CBE Consultants, Inc.

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Dr. Robert S. Cargill II is the President of CBE Consultants, Inc. Dr. Cargill applies his expertise in the principles of bioengineering to projects emphasizing the interaction between a biological system and the physical environment, particularly issues involving the biomechanics of human injury in the areas of human tolerance, occupant kinematics, and rigid body dynamics. Dr. Cargill is a seasoned testifier with testimony experience in multiple state and federal jurisdictions. His areas of specialized interest include the conceptualization, design, analysis, and evaluation of medical devices and related products, as well as in-depth forensic investigation of traumatic human injury related to machine design and failure using his specialized knowledge of industrial and construction machinery, power tools, hand tools, amusement rides, and firefighting and rescue equipment.
Previously the Engineering Director at JP Research, Inc. and President of Cargill Bioengineering, LLC, and prior to that a Senior Managing Engineer with Exponent, Inc., Dr. Cargill has many years’ experience evaluating forensic issues related to injury causation and product liability concerning: power tools (portable and stationary); specialized fall protection, firefighting, and rescue equipment; amusement rides and devices; industrial and construction equipment; and automobiles and heavy trucks. In addition, he has designed and evaluated specialized products in the areas of medical devices and firefighting equipment.
Dr. Cargill has also performed original research in the areas of traumatic brain injury and cell and tissue biomechanics. He has experience in cell and tissue culture techniques, research equipment design and construction, computer and physical modeling, and computer programming.
Dr. Cargill has lectured in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Orthopaedics at the University of British Columbia, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Cooper Union. He has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Widener University and Villanova University, a member of the academic faculty at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Research Associate and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.
A licensed professional engineer in Alabama, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, Dr. Cargill is also an active firefighter in New Jersey (currently Incident Safety Officer at Greenfields Volunteer Fire Company). In addition to his extensive firefighter and rescue training and experience, he previously held certification as an Emergency Medical Technician in New York and Connecticut (1986 to 1990).

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Ruth Ochia P.E. Temple University Orcid 16x16

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Ruth S. Ochia received her B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., in 1992 and her Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., in 2000.
From 2000 to 2002, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center of Locomotion Studies, at The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. From 2002 to 2006, she was a Post-doctoral Fellow and then Assistant Professor at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill. From 2006 to 2009, she was a Senior Associate with Exponent, Inc. From 2009 to 2013, she was principal of RSO Consulting, LLC, and taught as an Adjunct Professor at Widener University, Chester, Pa. Currently, she is a Professor of Instruction with the Bioengineering Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. Her research interests have included Biomechanics, primarily focusing on spine-related injuries and degeneration. Currently, her interests are in engineering education, curriculum development, and assessment.

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Project Based Learning (PBL) has been shown to be effective in bridging the gap between theoretical and practical engineering education. This transition is especially useful when attempting to convey abstract engineering topics, such as intrinsic properties of materials and the response of complex systems. Engineering dynamics has been specifically shown to be enhanced by using a PBL approach as visualizing the time-response of a system has, anecdotally, been difficult for students to learn. To enhance student understanding of this topic, we are using a real-world case study of potential head injury due to a falling piece of plaster in an undergraduate biomechanics course to illustrate fundamentals of impacts and fracture mechanics. To capture this effect, we are presenting a Jupyter-based analytic model to assist students in the evaluation of the response of frangible materials to impact and how the energy and momentum that are transferred over the duration of the impact varies as a result of differing initial problem conditions. The use of a computer simulation of a complex dynamic system will enable students to “visualize” the effects of parametric changes and improve student learning.

The students in the class are familiar with analyzing open-ended problems that require the teams to apply fundamental knowledge in a PBL setting. This project covers an injury case of falling plaster on a seated individual. The students will be presented with the project as they are learning impact mechanics to do an on-paper analysis and report. The project will be presented a second time with the students being able to use a Jupyter-based simulation of the incident as part of their analysis toolkit. Comparisons between the two reports will be made to evaluate the approaches to the injury analyses by the student teams. The report format contains a reflection section, where the teams assess their learning and approach to the presented problem. In addition, the students will be assessed to gauge their understanding of the topics presented in the PBL by using pre- and post-module quiz questions and reflective statements from PBL reports to gauge student learning and student opinions about using real-time visual aid in their comprehension of impact mechanics.

Caccese, N. J., & Cargill, R. S., & Ochia, R. (2021, July), WIP: Enhancing Student Understanding of Impact Dynamics Using a Jupyter-Based Simulation Tool for Injury Analysis Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38084

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