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

[+] Author and Article Information
Laurel Kuxhaus

ASME Member, Clarkson University, 8 Clarkson Ave, Box 5725, Potsdam, NY 13699

Karen L. Troy

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609

1Corresponding author.

ASME 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 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 similar projects can be further enhanced to foster entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineering students without undue burden on the instructor.

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