Biomedical Engineering Academy Gives Middle Schoolers Hands-On Experience

Biomed ms pgmIn an effort to spread awareness and interest in engineering to Long Island middle school students, Stony Brook’s Professor Mei Lin (Ete) Chan from the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) worked with a team of student volunteers from the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) to develop a five-session STEM program called “Biomedical Engineering Academy” that teaches the fundamentals of what biomedical engineers do and provides hands-on experience of some essentials skills of an engineer.
The program was designed to be executed entirely on a virtual platform, where human interaction was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. It included interactive elements and activities to engage with the middle school students. Before the start of the program, all middle school student participants received materials in the mail for the hands-on activities planned.
“This NSF-funded Engineering Academy program provides participants first-hand experience of how engineering would work, and how engineering design and innovation impacts our daily lives, healthcare and society,” said Yi-Xian Qin, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Biomedical Engineering Department Chair. “It will enhance students’ ability to not only understand science and engineering, but also to engage diversity and outreach, as well as team opportunities, which will further impact their future careers.”
Contents of the program were developed in accordance with the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). During the first day of the five-session biomedical engineering (BME) academy, students were introduced to the fundamentals and basics of what BME is. Given the wide application of BME, participants have the opportunities to conduct guided research for a better understanding of specific applications and specialties of various BME jobs.

For the second day, importance in developing and using models for explanation was emphasized. A worksheet that was sent as part of the materials was completed as a more hands-on approach to learning how models can be developed.
For the third session, students were introduced to use mathematics and computational thinking. They were taught how to use software for quantitative analysis and comparison.
During the fourth session, students planned and carried out their own physical exercise experiments. Following the activity, they performed statistical analysis and interpreted their heart rate data.
The final fifth session focused on the process of designing an engineering solution and the importance of teamwork. Students were taught the iterative engineering design process and had to collaborate with their group members to come up with a solution to a given problem. Notably, throughout the five sessions, time was allotted specifically to allow participants to communicate and critique ideas individually and in a group setting. These activities promote the development of essential qualities of engineers.
Stony Brook student volunteers were recruited from various CEAS majors including BME, mechanical engineering (MEC), computer engineering (ECE) and engineering science (ESG) as instructors for BME Academy. This collaboration with students from different engineering concentrations highlights the interdisciplinary nature of BME; all volunteers were able to contribute their knowledge when helping the students. This program was supported by the NSF grant titled “Engineering Academy: Educating Engineers of the Future” with the assistance of Kathleen Dinota, Engineering Education Project Coordinator, who previously organized a similar program with WISE. BME Academy is expected to run during the week of July 19th, and in the Fall 2021 semester.
“Adding activities in biomedical engineering to the Engineering Academy is a wonderful opportunity for students to get exposed to and appreciate the variety of engineering fields and the diverse opportunities that engineering study and careers offer,” said Mónica Bugallo, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Principal Investigator of the Engineering Academy NSF Grant.
This program was promoted through collaboration with SBU chapters of Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB)Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Special thanks to Program Coordinator and AEMB STEM Coordinator Chair Abdullah Hassan; Program Coordinator Anna Lei; Student Co-Instructors Frank Di Caro (Session 1), Elpida Manolas (Session 2), Julia Capobianco (Session 3), YuXuan Li (Session 4), and Alex Eichert (Session 5); Interview Facilitator Isha Oza; and CEAS Volunteers Camilo Arias, Ramisa Fatima, Adrienne Gabit, Mahika Gupta, Helen Gutelius, Ashiful Islam, Aditi Kaveti, and Tonni Sherard.

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