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Work in Progress: Development and Dissemination of Interactive Didactic Modules for Biomedical Engineering: Bridging Fluid Mechanics and Systems Physiology

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Michael Kormos Rochester Institute of Technology

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Michael A. Kormos is a fourth year undergraduate student in Biomedical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. Michael has completed a significant portion of the BME curriculum, including courses in Fluid Mechanics, Biomechanics and Stress Analysis and Systems Physiology. The work described in this abstract was conducted by Michael during his Summer 2015 co-operative education term under the supervision of Dr. Cristian A. Linte - Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at RIT teaching the Fluid mechanic and Advanced Biomechanics and Stress Analysis courses, and Dr. Alan Man, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at RIT teaching the Introduction to Programming and Systems Physiology courses. The described educational modules were solely implemented by Michael Kormos, including their testing and validation against numerical and analytical methods covered during the courses.

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Alan J. Man Pierce College

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Dr. Alan J Man is a Professor of Engineering at Pierce College in Puyallup , WA. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. Man was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer in the Biomedical Engineering department at Rochester Institute of Technology in ROchester, NY.

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Cristian A. Linte Rochester Institute of Technology

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Cristian A. Linte is an Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He also holds a joint faculty appointment in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

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Biomedical Engineering (BME) is a recently new area of engineering that focuses on the application of the traditional, core engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology. This field seeks to close the gap between engineering and medicine, by combining the design and problem solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences.

Our BME curriculum exposes students to several core engineering courses that cover concepts such as Fluid Mechanics, Biomechanics & Stress Analysis from a pure scientific, engineering perspective, followed by application-specific courses, such as Systems Physiology. While the former category ensures mastering of fundamental, core engineering principles, the latter category truly differentiates tour BME program from other BME programs across the country: direct application of the engineering to medicine, biology and the human body as an inter-connected network of systems.

Systems Physiology introduces students to the various systems in the human body and how these systems interact with each other to perform bodily functions. Besides learning about normal function, students also learn about pathology that perturb the system, and they can make predictions on how theses disturbances may affect the system and normal bodily functions. This class is a critical component of the curriculum, as it is the only class that focuses primarily on the human body. Students begin to grasp the complexity of the human and its implications on design parameters for medical devices, drugs or treatments.

Current pedagogical approaches entail a thorough description and analysis of the core engineering principles in courses like Fluid & Solid Mechanics, as well as a more biologically-inclined flavor for courses such as Physiology. While the traditional “textbook, pen & paper” approach enables students to master the fundamental concepts in engineering science, it provides limited exposure to the biomedical application domain. Similarly, the biology- and physiology-flavored courses cater more to the application, without emphasizing the core engineering principles and their effect on the application.

We have developed educational modules that cater to both categories, by providing complementary resources that enable students to not only better understand the core engineering principles, but also interactively study and observe their direct impact at the system’s level, in the context of biomedical applications. The developed modules enhance the current curriculum via the following innovative means: 1. Better understand the core, fundamental engineering concepts (i.e., fluid mechanics, stress analysis and biomechanics etc.) using a real-time “plug & play” approach; 2. Apply the fundamental engineering theory to non-traditional geometries and non-deterministic formulations that better mimic the human body and inherent variability; 3. Empower the user with full control over the parameters, initial and boundary conditions governing a specific set of engineering principles, enabling a versatile exploration of the system’s response to parameter change and variability by means of live animations, clips, and short movies that visually illustrate the application; 4. Facilitate the generation of “reports” and “case analyses” that summarize and synthesize the system’s response to parameter and initial/boundary condition variations, with the option to save, share or disseminate the generated information; 5. Integrate a set of learning assessment tools into the interactive modules that enable the users to easily evaluate the outcome of the learning initiative immediately after its completion in a much more versatile fashion than typical online multiple choice quizzes.

The developed didactic modules resonate with the RIT’s flipped classroom pedagogical endeavor: the designed educational materials are intended to complement current learning techniques already implemented as part of traditional classroom teaching, and provide an additional opportunity for students to connect the dots and fill in the gap between engineering concepts and biomedical applications. Moreover, it is critical to emphasize that while the use of such learning modules is similar to the flipped classroom approach, it does not imply the substitution of the traditional lecture content, but rather augmenting it with a new, tangible dimension intended to provide an illustrative approach to analyzing and understanding biomedical engineering concepts and applications.

In addition, this learning initiative entails a hands-on, “plug & play” application-oriented pedagogical paradigm interpreted as a tangible solution to the case method or problem-based learning. Similar to the flipped classroom approach, both approaches have been implemented as part of RIT’s mission to enhance teaching and have proven powerful for engaging students in the subject matter, motivating them to analyze situations carefully, and giving them practice in applying the course material to solve real-world problems. Further, both are well suited to any discipline that has a context for application or use, including all engineering specialties. Nevertheless, both methods lack a “tangible” component that “brings home” the idea by allowing students to “do it themselves”. The proposed learning modules serve as a versatile, user-centered application that give full control to the user on what aspects of the problem they would like to focus on and provide a means of analyzing and interpreting a system or model response in real-time, using innovative software and visualization techniques.

The developed modules incorporate the use of computational resources such as MATLAB – the contemporary language of technical computing – already in use at our institution and also a widely embraced by students and faculty. In addition to making use of widely-available and widely-supported computational platforms for implementation, the developed modules “play nicely in the sandbox” with other e-learning modules or online educational resources within our institution and beyond.

Kormos, M., & Man, A. J., & Linte, C. A. (2016, June), Work in Progress: Development and Dissemination of Interactive Didactic Modules for Biomedical Engineering: Bridging Fluid Mechanics and Systems Physiology Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27222

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