Bioengineering is a multidisciplinary subject which necessitates that engineering students, who typically have no knowledge of medicine, must quickly and effectively gain a thorough understanding of the complexities of human anatomy. Teaching on a Bioengineering module at Newcastle University’s School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering employed a combination of Primal Pictures anatomical software, bespoke teaching materials and peer to peer learning. This allowed Bioengineering students to quickly construct an understanding of anatomical principles which they used in individual, assessed projects on total joint replacement. Anonymised, written feedback gathered from the students revealed overwhelmingly positive learning experiences and assessed projects indicated deep knowledge of the anatomical descriptions necessary to understand and work with the science of joint replacement.
Bioengineering - the application of engineering principles and techniques to the medical field - contributes towards the improvement of medical interventions in many ways. One of the discipline’s most important contributions has been the design of artificial joints, a development which is recognised as the twentieth century’s major advancement in orthopaedics. Millions of joint replacements have been implanted leading to improved quality of life for many thousands of people suffering from crippling musculo-skeletal diseases. These artificial joints are designed by engineers who need to be fully conversant with human anatomy and the associated medical language. The challenge then, is how to immerse undergraduate engineering students quickly and efficiently in an alien subject and give them sufficient knowledge for them to apply engineering principles to this exciting topic?