Incorporating Engineering Standards Throughout the Biomedical Engineering Curriculum
Knowledge of how to identify and apply engineering standards is a necessary skill for biomedical engineers seeking to enter into the engineering industry . These standards serve as frameworks to define design inputs and develop verification and validation methods [2,3]. Furthermore, ABET accredited programs require that students partake in a major design experience that builds upon prior coursework and incorporates “appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints” . The use of engineering standards is often reserved for this capstone course; however, abundant literature highlights the need for students to have repeated exposure and practice , suggesting the benefits of incorporating engineering standards throughout the biomedical engineering curriculum.
We previously presented a Work-in-Progress  that documented preliminary results on how our biomedical engineering curricular improvements led to gains in students’ abilities to identify relevant engineering standards. Here, we present our full data analysis, which includes analysis of all 4 cohorts and analysis of both identifying engineering standards for use as design criteria justifications and applying engineering standards to execute test methods. Specifically, we tested four hypotheses related to identifying and applying relevant engineering standards in formative and summative courses:
1) increased student exposure to engineering standards through formative courses improves students’ abilities to identify relevant engineering standards as design input justifications in senior design (summative)
2) increased exposure to engineering standards through formative courses improves students’ abilities to apply relevant engineering standards as executable test methods in senior design (summative)
3) execution of an engineering standard test method in a formative lab course improves students’ abilities to identify and apply relevant engineering standards in a subsequent formative course
4) small class activities in a formative course improve students’ abilities to apply relevant engineering standards
Due to a curriculum change that rolled out over multiple years, four cohorts of students with varying degrees of exposure to engineering standards emerged . To assess hypotheses 1 and 2, we used a rubric to score design criteria and verification methods in senior design reports, and we analyzed these scores using a Kruskal-Wallis test. To assess hypothesis 3, we compared junior design reports from a cohort of students who executed ISO 10993 in a sophomore lab course to a cohort that did not take this sophomore course, using a Mann-Whitney U test. To assess hypothesis 4, we used a Mann-Whitney U test to compare verification and validation test methods from junior design reports of a cohort that had a class activity focused on identifying test methods to a prior cohort that did not have this instructional intervention.
Our aim is that our curriculum modifications and small-scale instructional techniques may serve as a model for other institutions on how biomedical engineering standards can be integrated throughout an undergraduate curriculum.
1. J.R. Goldberg, “Standards in Capstone Design Courses and the Engineering Curriculum,” IEEE Pulse, vol 3, pp. .42-44, Sep-Oct 2012.
2. W. Kelly, T.A. Bickart, P. Suett, “Incorporating Standards Into Capstone Design Courses,” in American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon, June 2005. https://peer.asee.org/14650.
3. S. Zenios, J. Makower, and P. Yock, Biodesign: The process of Innovating Medical Technologies, Cambridge University Press, 2010.
4. ABET Web site. [Online]. http://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/accreditation-policy-and-procedure-manual-appm-2018-2019/
5. S. A. Ambrose, M. W. Bridges, M. DiPietro, M. C. Lovett, M. K. Norman, How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
6. J.S. Stephens, S.I. Rooney, “Work in Progress: Effective Use of Engineering Standards in Biomedical Engineering,” American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2018. https://peer.asee.org/30004
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