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Work in Progress: Computational Modeling of Biomedical Devices with Active Learning Strategies

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Biomedical Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1384.1 - 23.1384.5



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Paper Authors


Tom Merrill Rowan University

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Dr. Tom Merrill's research interests include energy systems, biotransport modeling, and medical devices. Prior to Rowan University, Dr. Merrill worked for thirteen years at a number of places including United Technologies Carrier, Abiomed, Wyeth Research, MicroDose Technologies, and at a medical device start-up company called FocalCool. He received his degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Penn State (Ph.D.), the University of Michigan (M.S.), and Bucknell University (B.S.). He currently teaches thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and biofluids.

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Computational Modeling of Biomedical Devices with Active LearningStrategies – Works in ProgressToday’s medical device market is vast. It is also competitive. As a result, there is a need forbiomedical engineers to know how to model new designs quickly and effectively. To train futureengineers to meet this need, over the last three years we have developed an innovative seniorelective and master’s level class that combines active learning strategies with today’s latestmodeling tools.The instruction is broken into four components:1) a review of past transport principles(momentum, heat, and mass), 2) an appreciation of the power and effort necessary to solveproblems numerically, 3) how to use a commercial finite element package to solve biomedicaltransport problems, and 4) the practical considerations in a real medical device company. Thesefour distinct areas are not siloed, instead continually woven together.For example, at the start of the class, glaucoma is briefly described. No treatment details areprovided. Using active learning techniques such as think-pair-share, Jigsaw, and brainstorming,the classroom identifies and explains various modes of treatment possibilities. To provideopportunities for higher level Bloom’s Taxonomy activities, we ask the students to model drugdelivery into the eye and evaluate and judge the process. Are there ways to increase drugconcentrations at particular time intervals? Is there any concern about residual drug levels at theend of the study duration? Is there a better of delivering the drug? Are drugs the best approach?The final third of the class is focused on collaborative learning. Two to three students take on aself-selected biomedical problem. Entire class periods are dedicated to modeling the problem.With seven or eight different teams working together there is excellent cross-pollination ofmodeling “tricks”. Their final report spans problem formulation to results verification throughtesting or comparison with published literature. Parametric studies are done to explore designimprovement potentials – once again seeking higher level Bloom’s Taxonomy activities.As a result of this class each year we have had increased student activity in a university-wideSTEM symposium as well as the annual ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference. In thefuture we plan to integrate this course into a new NSF TUES grant entitled: Organ-izing theCurriculum - Enhancing Student Understanding of Core Engineering Concepts throughBiomedical Activities (Grant No. 1140631).

Merrill, T. (2013, June), Work in Progress: Computational Modeling of Biomedical Devices with Active Learning Strategies Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22769

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