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Research Papers

Bad to the Bone: Multifaceted Enrichment of Open-Ended Biomechanics Class Projects

[+] Author and Article Information
Laurel Kuxhaus

Fellow ASME
Department of Mechanical and
Aeronautical Engineering,
Clarkson University,
8 Clarkson Ave,
Box 5725,
Potsdam, NY 13699
e-mail: lkuxhaus@clarkson.edu

Karen L. Troy

Worcester Polytechnic Institute,
Department of Biomedical Engineering,
100 Institute Road,
Worcester, MA 01609
e-mail: ktroy@wpi.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received December 15, 2017; final manuscript received May 7, 2018; published online June 7, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Victor H. Barocas.

J Biomech Eng 140(8), 081008 (Jun 07, 2018) (5 pages) Paper No: BIO-17-1591; doi: 10.1115/1.4040293 History: Received December 15, 2017; Revised May 07, 2018

Equipping engineering students for career success requires more than technical proficiency; mindset and contextual interpretation also matter. Entrepreneurial mindset learning (EML) is one framework that faculty can use to systematically enrich course projects to encourage development of these important career skills. We present the thought process behind enriching two biomechanics class projects to foster both the entrepreneurial mindset and the technical proficiency in undergraduate engineering students. One project required students to analyze a court case surrounding vertebral fracture in an elderly woman diagnosed one year after a fall in an elevator. In addition to technical analysis, students had to make a recommendation about the likelihood that the injury occurred due to the fall, and contextualize the results within economic and societal terms—how much should the plaintiff sue for and how could such injuries be prevented through design and regulation? The second project asked students to evaluate cervine cancellous bone as a suitable laboratory model for biomechanics research. In addition to technical analysis, students considered the value of cervine vertebrae as a laboratory model within the context of societal and economic benefits of ex vivo animal models, including the relevant policy and regulatory issues. In both projects, implemented at different institutions with similar student demographics, students performed well and enjoyed the “real-world” nature of the projects, despite their frustrations with the open-ended nature of the questions posed. These and other similar projects can be further enhanced to foster the entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering students without undue burden on the instructor.

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Highlights of EML concepts in relation to traditional engineering education

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