Biomedical Engineering Participants Receive Recognition at Recent ASEE Conference

From left, top: Timothy Muldoon and Jeffrey Collins Wolchock; bottom: Mostafa Elsaadany, Raj Rao and Ishita Tandon.
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From left, top: Timothy Muldoon and Jeffrey Collins Wolchock; bottom: Mostafa Elsaadany, Raj Rao and Ishita Tandon.

The American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) held its Midwest Section Virtual Conference Sept. 13-15. The conference, hosted by the U of A's College of Engineering, had 93 participants. Events included panel discussions, guest speakers and oral presentations of refereed papers. Several representatives from the Biomedical Engineering Department made presentations during the three-day event, including faculty members and a doctoral candidate.

Timothy J. Muldoon and Jeffrey Collins Wolchock, associate professors in biomedical engineering, received the best paper award for their submission, Impact and Delivery of an Engineering Service Learning Course in a Remote Environment. The paper discussed the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 epidemic, which made necessary the move to remote learning. In the paper and presentation, the team pointed out strategies it used to keep students engaged in a clinical observations course.

"The course places our junior-level undergraduate students into area clinics, where they directly shadow healthcare providers and work to identify areas where engineering solutions may be beneficial," said Muldoon, instructor for the course.

 Mostafa Elsaadany, an assistant professor in biomedical engineering, also was selected to make an oral presentation of his paper, Instructional and Learning Opportunities for Remote Offerings of Integrated Lab-lecture Core Undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Courses. Reflecting on lessons learned while teaching during the pandemic, Elsaadany and his collaborators, Muldoon and Raj Rao, professor and head of the Biomedical Engineering Department, discussed the challenges faced and processes adopted after the unplanned transition to remote instruction related to instruction of two core courses in the department.

"We found that one of the main challenges was maintaining students' morale and motivation," Elsaadany said. "The students were understandably concerned about their health and their loved ones and showed a continued decrease in their motivation to focus on fulfilling the course objectives."

Elsaadany explained that to combat this challenge, instructors frequently posted informal short videos.

"The informal friendly video announcements had the instructor showing up to update the students about course assignments or exams," Elsaadany explained. "Several students mentioned that the announcements helped them de-stress by lightening the mood, while effectively delivering the message."

Ishita Tandon, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, presented her talk through a student competition, Ignite Talks. The competition asks students to prepare a five-minute presentation in the delivery style of a TED Talk related to the conference theme: Preparing Tomorrow's Engineers. Tandon's talk, which was recognized as the best presentation in Ignite, was entitled, "I" in Inclusion. She discussed how it is easy for us as individuals to focus on another person's race, religion, nationality and gender and tie their identity to where they come from. With that, we focus on their diversity and question their belonging and inclusion. However, we automatically introduce ourselves as who we are and what we do and never question our own inclusion.

The talk also described how the departments of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering collaborated to start the monthly virtual town halls to discuss various topics related to diversity and inclusion with the goal of promoting equity and social justice in the STEM fields. Ed Clausen, a University Professor in Chemical Engineering and the conference chair, noted that the Ignite presentations were a real highlight of the conference. "The Ignite presentations were all very good, but Ishita's presentation on diversity and inclusion was also very timely and very well presented."

Tandon said, "Humanity is based on building effective relationships, which requires compassion. If we extend the same compassion we have for our family and friends to others around us, we can promote inclusion! All it takes is the will to implement that positive change."

When discussing the success of the Biomedical Engineering Department in the ASEE conference, Rao reflects on the department's philosophy of empowering students. One way is by faculty setting examples of professional involvement in conferences. "As a department, we strive to help our students succeed in their coursework, professional endeavors and as individuals," Rao said. "We want all of our team, especially the students, to succeed in an environment that promotes hands-on educational opportunities."

Find more news about the Department of Biomedical Engineering.



Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering

Christin Finney, digital communications specialist
College of Engineering

Timothy J. Muldoon, associate professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Mostafa Elsaadany, assistant professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering

Ishita Tandon, senior graduate assistant
Department of Biomedical Engineering


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