Biology in Engineering

Course designations: This is a service-learning course, and a communication intensive course

Course description: Effect of variability and constraints of biological systems on engineering problem solving and design; engineering units; engineering report writing; oral report presentation; laboratory demonstration of biological engineering analysis.

Objectives: After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define and discuss engineering and biological engineering.
  2. Have a better appreciation of yourself and your learning process, including why you picked this major.
  3. Understand in some depth the area of biological engineering in which you want to study
  4. Communicate effectively with your community partner(s) and your peers, and apply rudimentary techniques for working together and resolving conflicts that result in the most success.
  5. Conceptualize the process of engineering design, including the following: what is engineering design, how does one approach a problem using the engineering method, impact of social and technical factors on design, evaluation methods in design, effective communication in the design process, engineering and the democratic process.
  6. Understand the significance of service-learning, and how it affects your strength as a person and an engineering student.
  7. Understand the significance of communicating, and how it affects your strength as an engineering student

Course Texts:

Lima, M. and Oakes, W. 2006. Service-Learning: Engineering in Your Community. Great Lakes Press, Wildwood, MO., 323 pp., ISBN 1-881018-94-6.

Handbook for Public Playground Safety. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Publication #325, 43 pp. (downloadable from the Internet).

Reference Books:

Burghardt, M. 1995. Introduction to the Engineering Profession, (2nd Edition). HarperCollins College Publishers, New York, NY. 298 pp.

Donaldson, K. 2002. The Engineering Student Survival Guide (B.E.S.T. Series). McGraw-Hill, New York, NY. 216 pp.

Gelb, M. 1998. How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven steps to genius every day. Delacorte Press, New York, NY. 322 pp.

Oakes, W., Leone, L. and C. Gunn. 2000. Engineering Your Future: An Introduction to Engineering (2nd Edition). Great Lakes Press, Okemos, MI, 650 pp.

Pfeiffer, W. 1997. Technical Writing: A Practical Approach (3rd Edition). Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. 616 pp.

Wright, P. 1989. Introduction to Engineering. Wiley & Songs, New York, NY. 292 pp.

Course approach. This is a service-learning course.

Service-learning is defined as ?a credit-bearing, educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.?

You will accomplish all of the learning objectives in this course by completing a service-learning project that concerns Biological Engineering and addresses a community need. This process is a mutual exchange of knowledge, information and service between the community (through community partners) and each of you.

This year, each section (Thursday and Friday lab sections) will be working in a group of 3-4 students to design a playground. Each of these playgrounds will be designed by end of the semester, and will be constructed at some point in the future. Students from this class have worked with community partners to design and construct five playgrounds. Although the construction takes place after the semester ends, a significant fraction of students who designed the playground volunteer to help construct the playground!

Today we will discuss our approach, and will consult information on each community partner.

Overall approach:

Weeks 1-4

  • Learn about engineering design and the engineering design method
  • Learn about designing playgrounds
  • Learn about your group members and create policies for decision making and management issues
  • Information gathering on community partner and addressing community needs (meet with contact and community members, site visit)

Weeks 5-8

  • Continue information gathering with community partners (second site visit, further discussions with community partners) and professional playground designers
  • Generate preliminary designs
  • Initial check on designs by instructor

Weeks 9-13

  • Create and refine final design with input from instructor, community partners, and experts

Weeks 14-15

  • Presentation of final design to panel consisting of community partners and playground design experts
  • Instructor and community partners take all designs and suggestions from panel, and streamline them into one consolidated design that best addresses community needs

Subsequent to semester:

  • Instructor (and interested students) and community partners present design to the greater community for further input, and a final design is agreed upon
  • Fundraising for playground project is completed
  • Construction will take place with community and student volunteers

Community Partners.

Section 1. Your community partner is South Boulevard Elementary School. We will work with community members, including children, parents, and teachers at the school, to design a playground for K-5 students at the school.

Section 2. Your community partner is Park Forest Elementary School. We will work with community members, including children, parents, and teachers at the school, to design a playground for K-5 students at the school.

Grading policy:

Grades will be determined based on the following break down:

Midterm exam 20%
Quizzes (2, plus lab attendance, 6.67% each) 20%
Student Portfolio (web page, journal and selected HW): 25%
Group design project 20%
(10% individual contribution, 10% group grade, grades determined in consultation with community partner)
Final exam 15%

A number of criteria are used for grading because each of us has strengths in different areas. My objective is for each of you to shine in this course; the different criteria for grading are provided with this notion in mind. In past years, there has been no curve in this class (that is, 89.5% and above is an A, 80-89.4% is a B, 70-79.4% is a C, 60-69.4% is a D, and <60% is an F); I expect the same situation to prevail this year.

Student portfolio. Each of you will be developing a portfolio this semester. A portfolio is defined as ?a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of the student?s efforts, progress or achievement in a given area.? Your purpose this semester is to learn about engineering, biological engineering, and yourself. Completing the assignments in this course will enable each of you to examine your motivations for choosing this major, and to learn more about biological engineering. This knowledge will help you to identify your personal and professional goals. Through portfolios, you will be documenting your path to a greater understanding of yourself and of this profession. You can use your portfolio for reference throughout your undergraduate career and beyond.

Investigators have established four levels of learning, which are as follows:

  1. Information: student can define, repeat, list, name, label, memorize, recall and/or relate that information.
  2. Knowledge: student shows an understanding and comprehension of the information gained in level (1), and can describe, explain, compare/contrast, identify, discuss and/or summarize it.
  3. Application/Analysis: student can solve problems by applying knowledge in new situations, and can critically distinguish the logical components of other applications of that knowledge.
  4. Wisdom: student can display professional judgment and the ability to synthesize, design, organize, plan, manage, teach and/or evaluate. Investigators have also determined that approximately 80-90% of one?s undergraduate education is spent in levels (1) and (2). My goal as an educator is to provide opportunities for students to participate in levels (3) and (4). Developing your portfolio is one way to accomplish this.

Your portfolio will consist of three parts:

  1. a personal web page that you will develop as part of this class;
  2. an engineering journal, which contains incidental or informal writing assignments that we will be doing throughout the semester, and
  3. homework assignments.

Throughout the semester, you will have homework assignments, all of which will go into your portfolios. Obtain a notebook or binder immediately for your portfolio! In this way, you will be able to build the portfolio throughout the semester, instead of rushing to pull it together at the last minute. You will turn in your portfolios for comments from me at mid-semester.

Your final portfolio should contain the following:

  1. A table of contents, including a description of the work done and the page on which it appears.
  2. A short introduction describing the purpose of your portfolio and what is contained in it; although this goes at the beginning of the portfolio, I suggest you write it at the end of the course.
  3. All the work you did in whatever order you?d like, as long as it makes sense and fits together
  4. Reflection narratives: after certain exercises, you will be asked to write a statement describing what you thought and felt about that specific exercise. This is to help you to identify, understand, analyze, and evaluate the ways in which your service-learning experiences are connected to your learning objectives, your knowledge base, and your development as a person and citizen of a democratic society. You may also be asked to articulate whether you thought an exercise was useful (or not) to you, to help me identify if the exercise is one worth keeping and/or refining for next year?s students.

Your portfolio requires a concluding self-assessment narrative, in which you write about your overall experience in the course, and evaluate the use of service-learning in your quest to achieve the academic and civic objectives of this course.

Feel free to include anything that you find of help to your own learning process. This portfolio is for you, not for me.

Engineering journals will be graded on completeness only, and not on what you said, how you said it, or grammar. The purpose of the engineering journal is for you to record all your thoughts, feelings and actions during the course of this class; please keep it with you at all times. These notes can be invaluable for many reasons; they may tell the story of how you develop into an engineer! Also, you may have great ideas that you forget about later; this is one excellent way to keep track of them.

Homework assignments. Homework assignments are intended to help you understand material. I employ a resubmission process for homework because of this reason: if you ?mess it up? the first time, instead of just getting the grade and continuing, re-submissions allow you to concentrate on the mistakes you make and to fix them.

Re-submissions will not be accepted for any grade higher than 80%, except in special cases that I will designate. You may re-submit an assignment for any grade lower than this, and your final grade for that assignment will be the average of the original grade and the final grade. You are not required to re-submit any assignment, but if you choose to, you must re-submit within one week of the assignment being returned to you in class. If you happen to miss class the day the assignment is returned, you are still responsible for re-submitting it one week from the date in which it was returned in class. Your submission must include a written explanation of what (specifically) you didn?t understand, and why you understand it now.

Homework must be turned in on time to receive full credit. Assignments must be turned in by 4:30 p.m. the day they are due in order to be considered on time! Late assignments will receive 20% off for each day that they are late! No re-submissions will be accepted for assignments turned in late.

Course policies:

  1. Turn off your cell phones before you come to class. If you have an emergency, place your cell phone on vibrate!
  2. Although I expect each of you to attend all classes, arrive punctually and participate, your final grade for this course will not be based on these criteria (except for attendance at lab).
    I will be taking attendance in lab this semester! The percentage of labs that you attend will be one of your quiz grades
  3. Cheating and plagiarism will not be tolerated! I check work carefully, and will report any student I suspect of academic misconduct to the Dean of Students, Dr. Jim Welles. It is okay to work together on homework assignments but it is NOT okay to COPY someone?s work (or to allow someone to copy yours). Check with me or the Code of Student Conduct ($Content/Code+of+Student+Conduct?OpenDocument) if you have questions on this matter
  4. 4Group work. A significant portion of what you learn in this course will be accomplished in a group setting. Your grade for the group design project is worth a significant portion of your grade for this course, and will be determined by me with input from you, your community partners, and other members in your group, each of whom will complete a confidential evaluation of all group members (the evaluation criteria will be determined by all of us at the beginning of the semester). If you do not participate and attend meetings, your grade may suffer as a result! A sample grading rubric created by last year?s class/instructor/community partner is included below:
    • Good citizen and group member (attitude, respectfulness, listening, group and communication skills): 25%
    • Attendance at meetings (in and out of class, with community partners, etc.): 25%
    • Dependability (did what needed to be done in a timely manner): 25%
    • Contribution to design project (quality of work, quantity of work): 25%

Special Issue:

Communication Across the Curriculum. Studies have shown that through more frequent writing experiences and instructor feedback, students become more proficient and confident in their oral and written communication skills. LSU has implemented a Writing Across the Curriculum Program (and is in the process of switching to a communication across the curriculum model) to improve the writing skills of students at this university. One program requirement is ensuring that students take at least one course designated writing intensive during each year of their college career. BE 1252 has been designated the writing intensive course for the freshman year! This course is also communication intensive, that is, you will be required to make several oral presentations to your community partner and to your peers throughout the semester.

For those of you who do not enjoy writing and speaking, keep in mind that one of the main complaints of employers regarding entry level engineers is lack of oral, written and group communication skills. You will spend a significant amount of your time writing on the job as a practicing engineer. I will try to make this experience as fun and painless as possible, but keep in mind that strong writing and communication skills will help you a great deal in your education, and in your future career.

BE 1252 Biology in Engineering: day-to-day syllabus plan
Note: this plan is subject to change

Thurs., 1/22 Former BE 1252 design projects
Fri., 1/23 Development of definitions: engineering, biological engineering, and service-learning
Tues., 1/27 What is biological engineering?
Thurs., 1/29 K-B personality sorter
Fri., 1/30 Areas of emphasis in Biological Engineering
Using the Internet: your design project and career interests
Tues., 2/3 Analysis of the K-B personality sorter, working in groups
Thurs., 2/5 Visit #1 with community partner: what does the community want in a design?
Fri., 2/6 Designation of design project groups
Engineering design and the engineering design method
Tues., 2/10 Presentation of specific design project information
(playgrounds, CPSC and ASTM design standards)
Thurs., 2/12
Fri., 2/13
Presentation of specific design project information (playgrounds, CPSC and ASTM design standards)
(Lima is out of town)
Tues, 2/17 Quiz 1: CPSC and ASTM design standards
Thurs., 2/19
Fri., 2/20
the design process: exercises in Leonardo da Vinci! (special visit by Dr. Ann Christy, The Ohio State University)
Tues., 2/24 No class, Mardi Gras holiday
Thurs., 2/26
Fri., 2/27
lab (critiquing existing designs)
Initial sketching, outlining of designs
Tues., 3/2 Expert discussion on playground design
Thurs., 3/4
Fri., 3/5
Field Trip: observation for your design project
In-class time: generate preliminary designs
Tues., 3/9 review for midterm exam
Thurs., 3/11
Fri., 3/12
Midterm exam
Tues., 3/16 Engineering units and elementary engineering analysis
Thurs., 3/18
Friday, 3/19
Visit #2 with your community partner, present your preliminary designs, get feedback for final changes, Engineering Units; elementary engineering analysis
Tues., 3/23 Engineering units and elementary engineering analysis
Thurs., 3/25
Fri., 3/26
Evaluation and assessment of designs, work on finalizing your group?s design (Lima is out of town)
Tues., 3/30 Quiz 2: engineering units and elementary engineering analysis
Thurs., 4/1
Fri., 4/2
Final report specifications and calculations, the bidding process Generate finalized designs
Tues., 4/6 Spring Break
Thurs., 4/8
Fri., 4/9
Spring Break
Tues., 4/13 Guest speaker: Biological Engineering
Thurs., 4/15
Fri., 4/16
The importance of communication in engineering design, speaking tips
Using word processing and spreadsheet programs
The Internet: creating a personal web page
Tues., 4/20 The implementation phase of streamlined engineering designs
Thurs., 4/22
Fri., 4/23
Guest speaker, Biological Engineering
Float time? (to finish designs or anything else we didn?t get to)
Tues., 4/27 History of engineering and perspectives on design
Thurs., 4/29
Fri., 4/30
#3: Formal presentation of your design to the community partner
Tues., 5/4 Re-cap: biological engineering, design, and you
Thurs., 5/6
Fri., 5/7
Review for final, end of class party

School: Louisiana State University
Professor: Dr. Marybeth Lima, Ph.D., P.E., CPSI