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. 2016 Sep 21;10:10.
doi: 10.1186/s13036-016-0032-5. eCollection 2016.

Design and Integration of a Problem-Based Biofabrication Course Into an Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Curriculum

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Free PMC article

Design and Integration of a Problem-Based Biofabrication Course Into an Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Curriculum

Ritu Raman et al. J Biol Eng. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Background: The rapidly evolving discipline of biological and biomedical engineering requires adaptive instructional approaches that teach students to target and solve multi-pronged and ill-structured problems at the cutting edge of scientific research. Here we present a modular approach to designing a lab-based course in the emerging field of biofabrication and biological design, leading to a final capstone design project that requires students to formulate and test a hypothesis using the scientific method.

Results: Students were assessed on a range of metrics designed to evaluate the format of the course, the efficacy of the format for teaching new topics and concepts, and the depth of the contribution this course made to students training for biological engineering careers. The evaluation showed that the problem-based format of the course was well suited to teaching students how to use the scientific method to investigate and uncover the fundamental biological design rules that govern the field of biofabrication.

Conclusions: We show that this approach is an efficient and effective method of translating emergent scientific principles from the lab bench to the classroom and training the next generation of biological and biomedical engineers for careers as researchers and industry practicians.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
3D Printing Biological Machines. a Schematic of 3D printing apparatus used to fabricate bio-bot skeletons using a biocompatible polymer. b Image of 3D printed bio-bot coupled to tissue engineered skeletal muscle. c Electrical and optical signals are used to drive contraction of the tissue engineered muscle, with each contraction corresponding to a “step” forward. External signals can thus be used to control bio-bots to walk on 2D substrates. The direction of walking can be dictated by either the geometry of the skeleton or the region of muscle stimulated. d Future work on bio-bots could involve incorporating multiple tissue types (such as muscle, vasculature, neurons) to create robots that can sense, process, and respond to dynamic environmental signals in real-time. Shown in this schematic is a bio-bot that senses a harmful chemical gradient, walks toward it, and secretes biological factors to neutralize the toxin. This is just one of many potential applications for bio-bots in future
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Biological Design Process for Capstone Project. Using the skills of 3D printing and 3D cell culture taught in the first four labs, students iteratively designed and built biological machines for specific target applications in the final project
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Comparison of Mid- and End-Course Survey Results. Student responses to questions listed in Table 3. Data is represented as mean ± standard deviation. Statistical significance is evaluated via a Mann-Whitney U test with p = 0.5 (*), 0.35 (**), 0.25 (***)
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
End-Course Survey Results. Student responses to first five questions listed in Table 4 specifically pertaining to class format

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