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Course Objective

Development of conceptual and applied design skills through lectures and exercises involving the design process and through the completion of a biomedical engineering design project.

Class Times and Locations

Fridays from 12:05 pm to 2:05 pm.

You are expected to meet as a team with your advisor/instructor for 30 minutes of this two hour window each week. The rest of the class meeting time is reserved and designed for you to work as a team on your project.

There are at minimum five days during the semester in which the whole class meets together for the whole two hour session:

  1. Project Selection and Introduction
  2. Preliminary Presentations
  3. Distinguished Lecture
  4. Show and Tell Session
  5. Final Poster Session

Additional design topics are provided in an online format and a summary for each assigned lecture should appear in the notebook. Students are expected to spend at least 45 hours (for the 1 credit courses) over the course of the semester for team advisor/instructor meetings, whole-class sessions, online content and working on the project.


Course Coordinator

John Puccinelli, PhD
Associate Chair of the Undergraduate Program
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Engineering Centers Building Rm. 2132
1550 Engineering Drive
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 1 pm - 2 pm

Design Faculty

Varies by semester – contact information and expertise can be found on the list of advisors.


Students will work in a team on a client-centered biomedical engineering design project to learn concept generation, product analysis, specifications, evaluation, clinical trials, regulation, liability, and ethics.

Course Sequence

Students work in teams to solve a real-world biomedical problems every semester in Biomedical Engineering - see About the BME Design Curriculum for specific details pertaining to each individual course.

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

Team members will choose one of 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.

Learning Outcomes

The BME Design courses are intended to help our students achieve all of our ABET (Accreditation) Student Outcomes. That is upon graduation we expect that each Biomedical Engineering student will demonstrate:

  1. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics
  2. an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors
  3. an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  4. an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts
  5. an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives
  6. an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions
  7. an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.

Brief List of Topics to be Covered

  1. Project based learning (client-based design problem)
  2. The design process
  3. Intellectual property
  4. Standards
  5. Engineering ethics
  6. Prototyping
  7. Testing and evaluation

Required Textbook, Software & Other Course Materials

There is no required textbook. Course materials are posted on the course webpage.

Reference Textbooks

  • Stefanos Z., Makower, J., Yock, P. 2010. Biodesign: The Process of Innovating Medical Technologies. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dym, C. L. 2003. Engineering Design: A Project Based Introduction. New York, John Wiley. Available at the bookstore and on reserve at the library.
  • Moore, J. H., Davis, C. C., and Coplan, M. A. 1989. Building Scientific Apparatus: A Practical Guide to Design and Construction. Addison-Wesley.
  • Carper, K. L. 1989. Forensic Engineering. New York, Elsevier.
  • Burgess, J. 1986. Designing for Humans: The Human Factor in Engineering. Princeton.

Electronic Notebook

You will be required to purchase and maintain a team engineering notebook:


Many software licenses needed for design are available on Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) computers, such as those in the design studio and many of the licenses are available for use on your personal computer. Software includes: SOLIDWORKS, Arduino, ImageJ, MATLAB, and Microsoft Office Suite.


Most grade components are assessed using standardized evaluation forms and the BME Design Rubric that can be found on the course website. Guides describing how to produce ‘A’-worthy course deliverables such as presentations, papers and notebooks are on the course website as well. The faculty advisor (or team of advisors) directly assesses these components for their teams. Final grades are then calculated with the approximate weighting of scores in the following categories:

  1. Course deliverables
    • Notebooks (preliminary 5% and final 25%)
    • Oral presentation( preliminary 5% and final 20%)
    • Written documentation (preliminary 5% and final 25%)
  2. Project output and team function
    • Prototype construction and evaluation (client satisfaction 5%)
    • Participation (contributions to weekly advisor meetings, group meetings, and team objectives, peer/self assessment 10%)
    • Technical leadership and outreach (for 402)

Group v. Individual Work

BME Design is a team-oriented course, so individual grades are partially linked to team performance. Individual performance can be assessed directly from notebooks, meeting discussions, and contribution to team objectives. We also look for evidence of individual contributions in other categories. Individual performance is obvious during oral presentations, but cannot be completely decoupled from team output (slide layout and content, evidence of design process, etc). While it is not feasible to directly assess each person’s contribution to written reports or prototype construction and testing, advisors use details in the notebook, progress reports and meeting discussions to gain additional insight. On the whole, there is approximately equal contribution from individual and group performance to the grading categories.

Scoring v. Grades

Evaluation forms include several outcomes that are typically graded on a 4-point scale. The overall score for each deliverable is a weighted average of the outcome scores (e.g., experimental data or analysis may not be expected at midsemester). Those scores are reported on the evaluation form.

Grading Consistency

We use standardized evaluation forms and criteria for most assessments, but each project, client, group and advisor are different – just as each job, market, company and boss are different. Category weights are adjusted slightly based on advisor discretion to account for the uniqueness of each project and team.

Grading Scale

A 93% & above Outstanding performance in all categories
AB 88% – 92% Some minor deficiencies in some deliverables
B 83% – 87% Minor deficiencies in most/all of the categories, or one major problem in course deliverables
BC 78% – 82% Minor deficiencies in all categories and/or multiple major problems in course deliverables
C 70% – 77% Major problems with course deliverables, sub-par effort overall
D 60% – 69% Missing deliverables, major problems with deliverables that were turned in, poor effort
F below 60% No deliverables, little to no effort


Visit the course resource page for specific guidelines related to each assignment.

  • Weekly Progress Reports: Each design team must submit a progress report by email to your primary instructor, team members, and client before 5 pm on the day prior to each team meeting. See the course website for the required format and content of these reports.
  • Design Notebook: Each team is required to maintain a design notebook with an individual portion that records your contribution to the team. This notebook should be a record of all work done during the course of the design project. It should not contain schedules of meetings, emails between team members unrelated to the design, and other trivia that do not contribute to the design process. For details on keeping a good design notebook and how notebooks will be evaluated by the instructors, please see the course website.
  • Preliminary Design Report/Presentation: During a class period before the middle of the semester (see course schedule for date), each team will make an oral slideshow presentation of their progress to date. A written report must be subsequently handed in and posted on the website.
  • Peer/Self Evaluations: At the preliminary and final deliverable submission dates, each student will complete a reflection and evaluation of their teammates. The preliminary evaluations will act as a guide for design advisors to help teams and both will serve as a means to assess team dynamic.
  • Final Poster Presentation: During a class period near the end of the semester (see course schedule for date), each project team will make a poster presentation describing their design project. This should include prototype demonstration, if appropriate.
  • Final Report: A final written report must be handed in. Details regarding the final report and presentation, including instructor evaluation criteria may be found in the schedule on the course website.

Other Course Information


You are responsible for thoroughly reading e-mails sent by the instructors and checking the course site for updates, and you are also expected to communicate with the instructors in a professional manner. Please make sure that all e-mail communication comes from your university e-mail address, has a descriptive subject line, is grammatically correct, and is free of slang. Thank you in advance for making sure that future e-mails correspond to these guidelines.


The lab can be a hazardous environment, and caution must be used when handling lab equipment and supplies. All students are expected to adhere to the lab safety rules described in class and in the required readings. In the Tissue Engineering Lab (BSL 1) room 2005 ECB, there is no food or drink permitted and everyone should wear closed-toe shoes and long pants in the lab.

Common Courtesy

Be kind to one another and your instructional crew. Disrespectful behavior or comments directed toward any group or individual will be addressed by the instructor.

Intellectual Property

The following is a statement for use in talking with industry regarding projects:

If members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Community create intellectual property in the course of pursuing a project, the University expects some consideration for its contribution. The University understands that it will be necessary to accept and protect confidential information of commercial collaborators.

The UW is unique among U.S. universities in that it does not claim ownership rights in the intellectual property generated by its faculty, staff, or students, except when required by funding agreements. UW inventors do, however, have an obligation to disclose all inventions created while carrying out university duties, using any university funding, or using university premises, supplies, or equipment to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation ("WARF"). If federal funds did not contribute to the invention, the inventor may then choose whether or not to work with WARF in patenting and licensing the invention. If the client commingles funds from federal government sources, by statute they must provide WARF with first right of refusal. Clients may contact WARF to negotiate access to such inventions.

Student Design Labs and Facilities

The Department of Biomedical Engineering has three teaching labs in the Engineering Centers Building (ECB).

BME Teaching Labs - Equipment list, manuals and schedules

Contacts if you have questions about any of the department teaching labs or equipment.

Storage: All items (shelves or cabinets) must be labeled properly: "Team short Name, Semester/Year, Contact Email" or the contents will be removed.


The TEAM Lab is also located within ECB. To use equipment in the TEAM Lab, review the shop policies and training on the website. The Tool Crib also has hand tools available for you to check out. You are required to obtain your green permit in BME 201 and we recommend you complete this as early as possible in the curriculum.

COE Makerspace

The Makerspace is located in Wendt Commons and is equipped with 3D printers and other rapid prototyping equipment.

Additional resources can be found on the course website.

Academic Policies

Academic Integrity

By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UW-Madison’s community of scholars in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest academic integrity standards. Academic misconduct compromises the integrity of the university. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, and helping others commit these acts are examples of academic misconduct, which can result in disciplinary action. This includes but is not limited to failure on the assignment/course, disciplinary probation, or suspension. Substantial or repeated cases of misconduct will be forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards for additional review.

Much of the work to be done in this course will be collaborative; you have much to learn from interactions with your peers on your projects. All work turned in by groups must have all members names placed upon the reports in order for credit to be given (multiple copies of the reports are not necessary). Any work that we require to be individual will be so noted. It is understood that the design project will be the product of you or your group solely, any assistance must be acknowledged.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

McBurney Disability Resource Center syllabus statement: “The University of Wisconsin-Madison supports the right of all enrolled students to a full and equal educational opportunity. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wisconsin State Statute (36.12), and UW-Madison policy (Faculty Document 1071) require that students with disabilities be reasonably accommodated in instruction and campus life. Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities is a shared faculty and student responsibility. Students are expected to inform faculty [me] of their need for instructional accommodations by the end of the third week of the semester, or as soon as possible after a disability has been incurred or recognized. Faculty [I], will work either directly with the student [you] or in coordination with the McBurney Center to identify and provide reasonable instructional accommodations. Disability information, including instructional accommodations as part of a student's educational record, is confidential and protected under FERPA.”

Diversity & Inclusion

Institutional statement on diversity: “Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background – people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.” Disrespectful behavior or comments directed toward any group or individual will be addressed by the instructor.

Religious Observances

UW faculty policy states that mandatory academic requirements should not be scheduled on days when religious observances may cause substantial numbers of students to be absent. Refer to the university's Academic Calendar for specific information.

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