By Michael Benedict
Biomedical engineering is an emerging discipline, and here in SBME, we pride ourselves on innovation, and willingness to think outside the box. This fall, SBME undertook an exciting new experiment: the development of an introductory biomedical engineering course for local high school students. The goal was to introduce students to the world of biomedical engineering before they even get to campus, and to let them earn college credit in the process. The resulting course – BIOM 180 – is a 1-credit online course that covers the same content as BIOM 100, which most BME majors take as first-year students. BIOM 180 was taken by a pioneering group of students in the St. Vrain Valley School District this fall.
The course was an experiment in hybrid teaching, with many educators involved in the process. Dr. Ketul Popat, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and core faculty in SBME, oversaw the creation of the curriculum and developed the course materials. Mark Allen, a teacher at Frederick High School, facilitated the experience – handling some of the day-to-day teaching, helping students with their work, and making sure they stayed on top of assignments. The efforts of CSU BME Ph.D. Students Jasmine Nejad and Jessi Vlcek were also instrumental in making the course possible.
When asked about the experience of guiding students through the course, Mark Allen said, “This was all new for my students, [who] found the material to be challenging but worthwhile.” For their final projects for BIOM 180, students took a trip to Fort Collins, visited CSU, and presented for Mark and Dr. Popat. “The presenting part made them nervous at first,” Mark said. But in the end, “They did a really great job and impressed Ketul and me.”
This exciting new program had a successful first year, and can only grow from here. Several of the students who took the course now plan to matriculate at CSU in the fall of 2019. “I plan on making my seniors take this course every fall semester,” Mark said. “I think our partnership is a win-win and I look forward to continuing the Frederick HS-CSU bond.”