Biomedical engineering (BME) is a field undergoing significant growth with stable employment and economic stability. However, despite these metrics, students aiming to receive a degree in biomedical or bioengineering have stated difficulty competing against traditional engineering majors (mechanical, electrical, etc.) for positions in biomedical companies. BME programs therefore must adapt to the fast changing landscape to ensure their students can meet the demands and requirements of future employers. Our approach to this problem was the development of an Instructional Incubator with the goal of creating BME professional practice short courses for early career BME students that align the needs of undergraduate students and potential employers.
Through the Instructional Incubator, graduate students, upper-level undergraduates, postdocs, and faculty came together with the common goal of improving the undergraduate BME curricula at a large, public, R1 institution. This was accomplished through instructional design, understanding student learning needs, and interviewing future BME stakeholders to inform curriculum design. Specifically, Incubator participants engaged in instructional discovery to understand the needs of early career BME students and major industry stakeholders.
In this study we analyzed instructional discovery data collected over the first three years of the Instructional Incubator. Specifically, we ask, “What are common BME professional practice skills stakeholders look for in recent BME graduates?" and “How do desired skills of BME stakeholders differ based on job sector?”. Sixty-three stakeholders in the biomedical field were interviewed to determine the skills, both professional and technical, they felt were required or expected of engineers in their workplace. A qualitative analysis of these responses was performed to categorize the skills, and determine which were not being met in the current curriculum. The results of this work will help BME departments adapt their early career curriculum to address the needs of future employers, and better differentiate their students from other traditional engineering departments.
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