Course: BIOEN 403 – Bioengineering Capstone Research Project

Credits: ([2]-, 4 total).

Instructor: Each student registers with an individual Bioengineering faculty advisor, and may be co-advised by others active in biomedical research.  Writing progress, in-class presentations, and individual issues will be supervised by dedicated capstone instructors.

Texts and Supplemental Materials: None

UW Catalog Description: Independent senior research project with final paper and poster.

Instructor Overview: BIOEN 403 places seniors in Bioengineering faculty laboratories to conduct individual research projects. Students may initiate projects or choose projects suggested by the faculty host. Each project must apply engineering principles and be sufficiently novel that its successful completion would merit publication in a science or engineering journal. A senior project may be part of a larger project, but its goals and relationship to the larger project should be well defined.

Students are encouraged to participate in research group activities as early as practical in the undergraduate career. During this preparatory phase and during the registered quarters, students are members of a laboratory group, attending group meetings and sharing lab maintenance duties in addition to planning and executing the senior project. In larger lab groups, seniors are typically assigned a graduate student or post‐doctoral fellow as mentor.

Each student will choose a host lab before starting BIOEN 401 in spring of the junior year, and must select a project topic early in BIOEN 401. The BIOEN 403 project proposal is developed during BIOEN 401. A review early in BIOEN 401 confirms that each project will meet criteria for engineering research, based on the ABET learning objectives. The completed project plan will be reviewed again by the Bioengineering Student Affairs Committee during the spring or summer quarter.

Students register for 4 credits of BIOEN 403, divided between two consecutive quarters with two credits per quarter. Students may receive credit for research during the summer and autumn quarters, or autumn and winter quarters. The course is hyphenated, meaning that the grade for both quarters of BIOEN 403 is determined upon completion of the course, project, and journal‐style paper. Details of capstone grading are provided in the appendix.

The research project should be completed before spring quarter, to avoid concurrent due dates for the research project report and required team design project report in BIOEN 405. Therefore, the project length should be chosen such that all aspects of the project ‐‐ planning, equipment acquisition, and training, fabrication, experimentation, analysis and reporting – can be completed by the end of the second quarter, with the student working in lab 12‐15 hours per week.

Prerequisites by Course: BIOEN 401

Prerequisites by Topic: Biology, chemistry/biochemistry, probability and statistics for scientists and engineers.

Required or Elective: Required Capstone Course for Team Track of Capstone

Computer Use: Requires on‐line access to search literature and to communicate via email. Requires computer‐based data analysis, report generation, and overhead slide preparation. May require numerical simulations, signal and image processing, and advanced programming depending on the individual research projects.

 Specific Outcomes: By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Work and communicate in a research group
  2. Design and conduct bioengineering experiments with educational support and advice
  3. Observe and practice the detailed tasks needed to plan and conduct Bioengineering projects and to maintain a research lab
  4. Write and receive feedback on a thesis-style report.

Outcomes Addressed by this Course:

B. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.

  • Utilize BIOE skills to test experimental hypotheses or prototypes from design plans developed in BIOEN 401; correctly analyze results; compile results in a permanent record such as lab notebook or written reports.  Conduct experiments consistent with relevant standards.

E. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.

  • Recognize need in medical or bioscience community; evaluate its relative and absolute importance; cast problem as an experimental challenge; prove hypothesis or demonstrate new knowledge that leads to solution.

G. An ability to communicate effectively.

  • Prepare detailed written report that addresses engineering, economic, and societal issues in a format; the report should take the form of a manuscript for journal publication. Maintain communication with lab members and advisors.

I. Recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning.

  • Show/describe the continuous progress in the field prior to and during project via literature search and analysis.

M. The ability to apply advanced mathematics (including differential equations and statistics), science, and engineering to solve the problems at the interface of engineering and biology.

  • Apply advanced mathematics, science, and engineering; support conclusion with statistical analysis; assessment should emphasize statistical analysis; address hypotheses posed in experimental design.

Relationship of Course to Departmental Objectives:

The senior research project allows students to apply the bioengineering fundamentals they have learned, and to learn advanced topics and techniques, in a manner consistent with graduate and professional training in medicine and biology.  The student projects are typically part of externally funded programs, and therefore address immediate or long-term issues that are of considerable importance to human health.  Students may encounter problems that require knowledge from any or all of their prior courses or that may require them to master concepts that they have not previously explored.  Students must communicate their progress to their advisors, collaborators, and peers, who may encompass a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds.  Fulfillment of their project allows students to gain key professional and research skills that they will need to obtain employment in bioengineering-related fields.  Students must be responsible and guide their own projects.  They gain experience in project management, working in a team in a lab setting, and communicating their ideas to their peers and supervisors.  As such, this experience will give students many tools needed to reach the program educational objectives of the Bioengineering undergraduate program:

  • Earn advanced degrees and/or obtain employment in bioengineering-related fields, such as medicine, device development, or biotechnology.
  • Advance their careers by obtaining appropriate educational and professional qualifications.
  • Serve their profession and community.
  • Contribute to responsible development of new technical knowledge.
  • Take leadership roles in addressing domestic or global bioengineering-related issues.

Topics Covered:

  1. Design, conduct, and documentation of experiments.
  2. Composition of research progress reports.
  3. Composition of research paper.
  4. Oral presentations.
  5. Specialized topics and techniques as necessary (via experiences in lab research group).

Class Schedule: Students work in lab on a schedule agreed between each advisor and student (12‐15 hours/week). All students registered for BIOEN 402 (individual capstone design project) and BIOEN 403 convene one hour per week to discuss their progress, technical issues, and course requirements.

Laboratory Projects: Students conduct cutting‐edge research projects in biomedical research laboratories under the mentorship of UW faculty or outside biomedical experts. Projects may be proposed by the students or advisors, according to the interests of both. Topics of past senior projects have included: computer models of brain tumor growth; pH‐sensitive gels for timed release of antibodies; low‐cost, portable tests for STDs; implantable materials with enhanced biocompatibility.

Grading Summary:

BIOEN 403 is a hyphenated course, meaning that no letter/number grade is assigned until both quarters and the final paper are complete. The first quarter receives an N grade, which is replaced when the final numerical grade is assigned.

BIOEN 403 is graded on the following aspects:

  • Quality and quantity of work in lab       40%
  • In‐class contribution                              10%
  • Final project report                                50%

Quality and quantity of work in lab – 40%

The capstone advisor(s) have the flexibility to judge – as objectively as possible – the performance of the student on a day‐to‐day basis. This judgment should consider progress on the project itself, as well as the student’s ability to function effectively as a member of a research lab group. Specific items to be considered include planning, record keeping, adherence to safety guidelines, following experimental procedures and good lab practice, communication with advisors and group members, follow‐through on agreements, and time spent on the project or in lab.

Progress Reports:

At the end of the first quarter, the primary adviser should provide a performance review and hypothetical numerical grade for the “Quality and quantity” portion of the course evaluation. When the numerical grade is calculated for the final quarter, the “Quality and quantity” portion should be consistent with the performance reviews reports from the previous quarters. This policy is intended to increase students’ motivation to improve when necessary, and to give them a more accurate prediction of their final capstone grade.

Inclass contribution – 10%

BIOEN 403 students are required to submit draft of their capstone paper during the first and last quarters of the project. The drafts should be submitted to the BIOEN 402/403 classroom instructors for feedback and to count toward the grade. Students are expected to participate in the weekly classroom meetings, and a presentation to the class is required during the second quarter of the project. In addition, students should meet with their primary advisors at least quarterly and share a summary of their performance review with the capstone coordinators (Neils, Taylor, and Nichols); the summary will count toward the “In‐class contribution” portion of the course grade.  The classroom instructors will report a score for the in‐class contribution to the capstone advisors for inclusion in the final course grade.

The BIOEN 403 Research Paper – 50%

The final report is to be prepared in the form of an engineering research paper following the manuscript format for one of the journals relevant to the field. The document should be in 12‐point Times, Cambria, or equivalent font, 1.5‐ or double‐spaced, with 1” margins. The recommended length is 10‐15 pages, not including figures or appendices. It is not necessary for the paper to have the same appearance (columns, type face, figure placement) as would appear in the final published version of the paper.

At a minimum, the paper should include the following sections:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods and Materials (including adherence to relevant experimental standards and guidelines, such as IACUC and BSL‐2)
  • Results
  • Discussion (may be combined with Results)
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Appendix with the following information:
    • Costs (equipment, services and supplies) in a spreadsheet or table,
    • Description of any significant changes from the initial research plan
  •  Experimental/design decisions made by the student during the course of the project, as a measure of the level of independence exercised by the student.

Additional figures, data, programs, CAD files, etc., that do not fit in the paper may be made available in electronic form made available on a web site as supplemental information.

A statistical evaluation of the results must be included in the appropriate section. All writing is to be in formal technical English, using EndNote or equivalent for references (with appropriate in‐text citations).

Final Report Submission:

The report is to be submitted to the primary advisor and any co‐advisor(s) in whichever form (paper or electronic) the adviser requests. The official due date is the last day of classes during the second quarter of BIOEN 403. The report should also be submitted to the academic counselor as a PDF or Word document.

Final Report Grading

The final paper is to be graded by the primary advisor. Grading for the paper will be based on the criteria in the table 2. Full credit for each item is 4 points, and the cumulative grade will be the average of the scores for the listed criteria. Items that are omitted entirely should receive zero.

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