Review Article

Team-Based Development of Medical Devices: An Engineering–Business Collaborative

[+] Author and Article Information
Alan W. Eberhardt

Fellow ASME
Department of Biomedical Engineering,
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
Hoehn 361, 1075 13th Street South,
Birmingham, AL 35294-4440
e-mail: aeberhar@uab.edu

Ophelia L. Johnson

School of Engineering,
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
1075 13th Street South,
Birmingham, AL 35294-4440
e-mail: opheliaj@uab.edu

William B. Kirkland

Engineering Innovation Technology Development,
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
1720 Second Avenue South,
Birmingham, AL 35294
e-mail: rocwbk@uab.edu

Joel H. Dobbs

Collat School of Business,
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
BEC 319B, 1150 10th Avenue South,
Birmingham, AL 35294-4460
e-mail: jhdobbs@uab.edu

Lee G. Moradi

Engineering Innovation Technology Development,
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
1720 Second Avenue South,
Birmingham, AL 35294
e-mail: moradi@uab.edu

Manuscript received December 1, 2015; final manuscript received February 12, 2016; published online June 7, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Kristen Billiar.

J Biomech Eng 138(7), 070803 (Jun 07, 2016) (5 pages) Paper No: BIO-15-1615; doi: 10.1115/1.4032805 History: Received December 01, 2015; Revised February 12, 2016

There is a global shift in the teaching methodology of science and engineering toward multidisciplinary, team-based processes. To meet the demands of an evolving technical industry and lead the way in engineering education, innovative curricula are essential. This paper describes the development of multidisciplinary, team-based learning environments in undergraduate and graduate engineering curricula focused on medical device design. In these programs, students actively collaborate with clinicians, professional engineers, business professionals, and their peers to develop innovative solutions to real-world problems. In the undergraduate senior capstone courses, teams of biomedical engineering (BME) and business students have produced and delivered numerous functional prototypes to satisfied clients. Pursuit of commercialization of devices has led to intellectual property (IP) disclosures and patents. Assessments have indicated high levels of success in attainment of student learning outcomes and student satisfaction with their undergraduate design experience. To advance these projects toward commercialization and further promote innovative team-based learning, a Master of Engineering (MEng) in Design and Commercialization was recently launched. The MEng facilitates teams of graduate students in engineering, life sciences, and business who engage in innovation-commercialization (IC) projects and coursework that take innovative ideas through research and development (R&D) to create marketable devices. The activities are structured with students working together as a “virtual company,” with targeted outcomes of commercialization (license agreements and new start-ups), competitive job placement, and/or career advancement.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

Curriculum content for the BME 498/499 Senior capstone courses

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

The MEng curriculum contains engineering and business coursework to parallel the IC project development and ensure successful R&D for device commercialization. Internships with partner organizations may be substituted for the spring/summer electives.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Example IC projects from BME senior design: (a) prototyped mattress scale for recumbent emergency patients and (b) hemostasis tool for pediatric neurosurgery

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Process flow chart illustrating the stages by which the students will complete the program and develop technologies leading to commercial viability



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