About the BME Undergraduate Design Curriculum

Better health by design

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Major sponsors

Peter Tong and the Tong Family Foundation
Tong Design Awards

Boston Scientific
Boston Scientific

GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare


Design throughout the curriculum

The undergraduate program was founded with design at the heart of the curriculum. We developed a rigorous seven-semester, team-based design sequence for our undergraduates to solve real-world, client-based design problems. This design sequence breaks down class boundaries, forms mentored relationships, actively involves each student in the evolution of the design course and department, and engages the students in active learning.

Course sequence

Students work in teams of four to five to solve biomedical engineering design problems. In each of client-based design courses (BME 200, 300, 301, 400 and 402), the students choose a real-world project from a client list composed of faculty throughout the university (particularly engineering, medical and life sciences), clinicians, people with specific biomedical challenges, and industry. Teams are advised closely by the "Design Faculty" which is a group of Biomedical Engineering faculty and instructors who oversee and meet weekly with two-four projects each.

BME Design Curriculum Flow Chart

Design curriculum phases

Intro to Design: Freshman (InterEGR 170) work across dispicplines to solve real-world challenges that general address an unmet need in our community. For more information and to submit projects directly to the freshman program - go here.

Phase 1: (Fall) Peer Mentoring - first-semester sophomores (BME 200) are teamed-up with, mentored and in part advised by first-semester juniors (BME 300) on solving a real-world client-based design project achievable in one semester. This model of sophomore/junior teams promotes peer-to-peer learning and enhances leadership qualities.

Phase 2: (Spring) Guided Design Fundamentals - second-semester sophomores (BME 201) work in teams to solve a guided project using multidisciplinary hands-on technical (including electronic circuits, programming, 3D modeling in SolidWorks, machining and fabrication, and laboratory techniques) and professional design-based skills taught during the lecture and laboratory sessions.

Phase 3: (Spring) Independent Learning - second-semester juniors (BME 301) start a more difficult real-world client-based design project that usually leads toward their senior capstone design course. The intent is to instill in them the confidence to complete the design process on their own.

Phase 4: (Fall-Spring) Senior Capstone Design - seniors (BME 400/402) complete and implement a more complicated real-world client-based design. Most design teams continue their BME 301 project. BME 400 is the semester in which the major work for the project will be completed, then the final testing and evaluation is finalized in BME 402. Teams perform extensive research to fully develop and test their design. They begin to work toward filing a patent and preparing a publication. All students complete an outreach requirement, such as by giving a talk or organizing a hands-on activity in a K-12 classroom.

Key features

  1. Prototype driven - all semester results in the design, fabrication, and testing of real engineering innovations
  2. Close advising - teams are mentored closely by BME faculty with at most a 16:1 student to teacher ratio
  3. Networking - students work closely with clinicians, faculty, and other UW resources
  4. Building strong communication skills - professional, technical, written and oral
  5. Student involvement in the department and curriculum - one representatives from each team forms our Biomedical Student Advisory Committee (BSAC) who meet bi-weekly and monthly with faculty

Team roles

Each team will choose four-five team members to fill the following roles:

  1. Team Leader: Responsible for organizing weekly progress reports, team goals and team meetings.
  2. Communications: Primarily responsible for communications with the client and other professional contacts, as well as distributing progress reports.
  3. BSAC (Biomedical Student Advisory Committee): provides feedback to faculty about the design courses and curriculum and is chaired by an elected student. BSAC members also serve as peer advisors and mentors to the freshman.
  4. BWIG (Biomedical Web Implementation Group): is responsible for the team's website and the overall website is overseen by the BWIG chair.
  5. BPAG (Biomedical Purchasing and Accounting Group): is responsible for ensuring that all necessary materials are acquired and for maintaining all financial records for the team.

About this Site

This site was designed by Matthew Bollom, BS UW-BME 2013, for the University of Wisconsin Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Version 3.3, January 2014
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