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WIP: Experiential, Interdisciplinary Course in Global Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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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

Design in Biomedical Engineering (Works in Progress) - June 24th

Tagged Division

Biomedical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Katherine E. Reuther Columbia University

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Dr. Reuther's interests lie in the development and translation of early-stage medical technologies and discoveries and is an experienced educator in this area. She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, with additional appointments as the Director of the Columbia Biomedical Technology Accelerator (BiomedX) Program and the Director of Master’s Studies. The BiomedX program provides funding, education, and support to students and faculty interested in commercializing their biomedical inventions. She has advised and educated numerous student and faculty teams and start-ups in developing and commercializing medical technologies. Her current educational work focuses on developing new instructional tools and programs to enhance graduate education in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Prior to joining Columbia and while pursuing her PhD, Reuther served as a Research Assistant at the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory. Her dissertation researched focused on determining fundamental relationships and mechanisms of tendon and ligament injury and repair, with a particular emphasis on tissue mechanics and the shoulder. She continues to apply her research expertise through collaborations with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University, with a specific focus on translational orthopaedic clinical research. The goal of her current work is to optimize surgical and non-surgical treatment strategies for shoulder injury. Reuther received a BS in Biomedical Engineering (with an emphasis in Mechanical Engineering) from The College of New Jersey and a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at Columbia Business School.

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Rachel Diane Field Columbia University Orcid 16x16

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Rachel D. Field is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at Columbia University. She received her S.B. in mechanical engineering from Harvard University. Prior to graduate school, she was a fellow with the Wyss Institute, and a co-founder of a consumer product start-up based on her prior research in olfactory-based diagnostics. Her current research focuses on implantable soft microrobotics, for repeated and non-invasive therapeutic interventions. Additionally, she has worked on numerous translational science exhibits, which have displayed at the American Museum of Natural History, The Cooper Hewitt, and the Museum of the Moving Image.

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Aaron Kyle Columbia University

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Aaron Kyle, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. Dr. Kyle teaches a three semester series undergraduate laboratory course, bioinstrumentation and Senior Design. Senior Design is Dr. Kyle’s major teaching focus and he has worked diligently to continually enhance undergraduate design. He has taught or co-taught the BME Design class since January 2010. Dr. Kyle has spearheaded the incorporation of global health technologies into Senior Design, leading the development of neonatal care technologies for use in Uganda. In 2013, in coordination with the Harlem Biospace, he created the Hk Maker Lab as an opportunity to introduce students from underserved communities to biomedical engineering and engineering design. The creation of this program has engendered an increased interest in STEM education for secondary school students. Accordingly, he is increasing his efforts to provide impactful education opportunities for these students. Dr. Kyle received is B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University ('02) and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University ('07)

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Introduction. In the United States, improvements and advances in medical technologies have made a significant impact on human health, increasing life expectancy and significantly improving quality of life. Despite these advances and a push toward healthcare as a global priority, there is a persistent deficit in healthcare solutions for developing countries. Working with partners in Africa and India, over the past several years, we have supported students at both the undergraduate and graduate-level in our Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) to create healthcare technologies for low-resource settings in our existing Senior Design and Graduate-level Design courses. Despite our successes with these student teams, we recognized opportunities for enhancements. First, the design and implementation of global healthcare innovations are extremely complex, and often cannot be sufficiently covered in the confines of existing courses, which are often US-centric. Second, we were missing the opportunity to provide our engineering students with an interdisciplinary experience while leveraging the talent of students in our world-class School of Public Health. Third, while students are currently trained and encouraged to explore the entrepreneurial aspects of their global health tech projects, these aspects often receive less emphasis. The current generation of engineering students are eager to tackle global challenges and positively affect patient’s lives. Therefore, our objective was to create a new, experiential course in global health innovation and entrepreneurship where students from various educational levels and schools will identify and understand unmet global health needs, develop and refine sustainable solutions, and form ventures equipped for successful implementation of their solutions.

Approach. We created a semester-long course, “Global Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship” aimed at preparing students (BME and Public Health) to create sustainable solutions to global healthcare problems. The course includes a variety of methods for learning, including group project-based learning, case-based learning, and engagement with external experts. Interdisciplinary project teams work systematically through the iterations necessary to design, develop, and implement solutions for unmet global health needs. At the conclusion of the semester, a subset of the students will be selected to participate in a global immersion trip to Uganda. Assessment of learning outcomes, course dynamics, and effectiveness will be achieved using within semester surveys (including Likert Scale and qualitative responses) and a final course survey, in addition to tracking and supporting of teams beyond the classroom.

Results. The course make-up includes BME students (combined undergraduate and graduate students, N=11) and Public Health students (N=9). Our first within-semester survey results (response rate=80%) reflect “strongly agree” or “agree” in 100% of the student responses that the inclusion of case studies and external speakers support their learning in the course. 93% of the student responses also indicate “strongly agree” or “agree” that the interdisciplinary classroom environment and the group project support their learning in the course. Conclusions: We have successfully designed and implemented a new course around global health innovation and entrepreneurship. Based on student feedback and instructor experience, the interdisciplinary classroom has significantly enhanced the classroom environment and the inclusion of opportunities for project based learning and case based learning has supported student learning.

Reuther, K. E., & Field, R. D., & Kyle, A. (2020, June), WIP: Experiential, Interdisciplinary Course in Global Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35540

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