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Work in Progress: Generating Interest in Biomedical Engineering through Exploration of the Design Process

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Biomedical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1388.1 - 24.1388.4



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Paper Authors


Marcia A. Pool University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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At the time of this work, Marcia Pool was an Instructional Laboratory Coordinator in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University; she is now a Lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. At Purdue, she oversaw and assessed junior level laboratories, bioinstrumentation and biotransport, developed and implemented sophomore and junior professional development courses, and taught and mentored students in the Senior Design Capstone course. Marcia collaborated with Women in Engineering in on-campus events to establish interest in biomedical engineering and continues to do so in her new position. She is also actively engaged at the local and national level with the biomedical engineering honor society, AEMB.

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Jennifer L. Groh Purdue University Women in Engineering Program, West Lafayette

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Dr. Groh joined the Purdue Women in Engineering Program (WIEP) in 2009. She received a B.S. in microbiology from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining WIEP, she was the Graduate Programs Coordinator in the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. As Associate Director of WIEP, Dr. Groh administers the undergraduate Mentee & Mentor Program and the Graduate Mentoring Program, teaches the Women in Engineering seminar, and oversees WIEP's K-12 outreach programming.

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Allison L. Sieving Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Allison Sieving is the Laboratory and Assessment Coordinator for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Biology from Bowling Green State University. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Basic Medical Sciences and Biomedical Engineering programs at Wayne State University, respectively. At Purdue, her work focuses on developing and implementing undergraduate laboratory and lecture courses that address the evolving needs of biomedical engineers, creating outreach activities that build knowledge and appreciation of the field of biomedical engineering, and managing the ABET assessment program for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

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Works in Progress: Generating Interest in Biomedical Engineering through Exploration of the Design ProcessIncreasing motivation of pre-college students in Science, Technology, Engineering, andMathematics (STEM) fields is a recurring goal. While some students indicate interest in STEMfields, there needs to be a pathway through which the interest is reinforced. To increase interestin biomedical engineering, we developed outreach modules which enabled students to exploreand build knowledge of the engineering design process by utilizing their problem solving skills.The engineering design process is defined as an “[iterative], decision-making process in whichthe basic sciences, mathematics, and the engineering sciences are applied to convert resourcesoptimally to meet these stated needs” [1]. When employed, the engineering design process is acontinuous cycle of improvement involving: problem identification, brainstorming, conceptgeneration, implementation, and verification of the concept. While these skills describe theengineering design process, they are not unlike decision making skills employed in real-life.However, describing engineering in these foreign terms may be intimidating [2] which mayinhibit students from pursuing engineering in college. Therefore, there is a need to advertiseengineering for what it is: implemented problem solving.Engineers are natural problem solvers and seek challenge. Allowing novice engineers (pre-college students) to practice and develop their problem solving skills through design allows themto connect concept with implementation thereby enhancing understanding and interest whilereducing apprehension to “engineering”. As students achieve success in small design projects,their confidence is increased [3] and their problem solving skills are further cultivated. Manyoutreach projects are similar to cookbook laboratory exercises; these projects may develop initialinterest but once the problem is solved, interest may not remain. In contrast, developingoutreach modules around the engineering design process is similar to employing problem-basedlearning in a classroom: active participation, concept understanding, and decision making isrequired of students.We developed three modules in which high school (two modules) and middle school (onemodule) students were able to gain an appreciation and interest in biomedical engineering byemploying the engineering design process to solve problems adapted from a variety of sources.Resources utilized for module development included: a hands-on engineering resource site(creating a tool to remove a foreign object from the ear), a capstone senior design project(integrating physiological measurement capability into a hospital gown), and a real-worldengineering problem identified and solved by a biomedical engineering company (a harness for aLeft Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)). Two of these projects, when solved as a capstonedesign and a real-world problem, required significant effort, but modifying these projects to suitthe age and skill level of students was not difficult. In addition, these projects serve as anadvertisement for engineering as implemented problem solving.References[1] ABET. (2013, October 17). Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs, 2013 – 2014 [Online].[2] E. Rushton et al., “Infusing Engineering into Public Schools” in Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, 2002 © American Society for Engineering Education[3] A. Bandura. Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman, 1997.

Pool, M. A., & Groh, J. L., & Sieving, A. L. (2014, June), Work in Progress: Generating Interest in Biomedical Engineering through Exploration of the Design Process Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23321

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