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Senior Research/Design Capstone Requirement. Outline. Rationale for the capstone project Scope of the Bioen 482 project The structure of the capstone experience CREE The Bioen 481 class--Ramping up the 482 project. Rationale for the capstone project.

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senior research design capstone requirement

Senior Research/Design Capstone Requirement

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

  • Rationale for the capstone project
  • Scope of the Bioen 482 project
  • The structure of the capstone experience
  • CREE
  • The Bioen 481 class--Ramping up the 482 project

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

rationale for the capstone project
Rationale for the capstone project
  • We believe that Bioengineering students are best served by an early personal exposure to the excitement and challenges of hands-on research and development.
  • Bioengineering 482, the required 8-credit Senior Capstone Research/Design Project, assists in the transition from student to engineer by providing training in research and design implementation.
  • A successful research/design experience is the centerpiece of the undergraduate education in Bioengineering.
  • While laboratory involvement can commence at any time, it must begin by Autumn Quarter of Senior year.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

impact of the capstone project
Impact of the Capstone Project
  • Benefits
    • To the Undergraduate Student
      • Invaluable experience in research and design in their chosen field
      • Synthesis of classroom experiences
      • Marketable skills and items for their CV
    • To the Mentoring Graduate Students and Postdocs
      • Experience mentoring and managing subordinates
      • Acceleration of their own research projects
      • Assistance from highly motivated students on a specific timetable
    • To the Faculty
      • Enhanced progress on existing research projects
      • Low-cost initiation of new projects and generation of preliminary data
    • To the Department
      • Expanding the scope of existing research strengths to the undergraduate experience
  • Limiting Factors
    • Research laboratory space
    • The time of faculty, staff and graduate students

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

the challenge balancing project content between research and engineering
Scientific Research

Discovering mechanisms underlying the universe

Finding out what happens

Finding out why things happen

Finding out how things are organized

Finding the mathematical structure behind the facts

Engineering Design

The systematic and creative application of scientific and mathematical principles to practical ends such as the design, manufacture, and operation of efficient and economical structures, machines, processes, and systems.

Making things that perform a useful (bioengineering) function or solve an unmet need

The Challenge: balancing project content between research and engineering
  • In all cases the final research/design project must include elements that were designed by the student

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

it s not all black and white
Scientific Research


Quantitative and descriptive

Understanding the nature of a problem

Developing tools to better understand problems

Engineering Design



Solving a (biomedical) problem

Developing tools to solve that problem

It’s not all black and white



Student’s projects are between

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

project quality control
Project Quality Control
  • Approved projects must have both a research and a design component
    • Following an existing research protocol, no matter how complex, does not constitute adequate design
    • Design not geared toward the solution of a medical or biological problem does not constitute adequate research
  • The project write-ups that students write in Bioen 481 in Spring quarter of their Junior year are reviewed for content by the Student Affairs Committee of the Department at the beginning of the Summer quarter.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

what happens in capstone projects i
What happens in capstone projects? I
  • Individual projects often look a lot like the “standard model” of normal research
  • Left out of the cycle to right is the requirement for frequent communication with mentors.
  • While salary is not provided for coursework, faculty must have funds available for supplies and, perhaps, equipment

4 Analyze data

3 Perform experiments

5 Make conclusions

2 Build


6 Communicate with peers





the model*

1 Design experiments

*Generate new hypothesis

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

what happens in capstone projects ii
What happens in capstone projects? II
  • More engineering-oriented projects may have a cycle more like that at right.
  • Obtaining financial support is just as necessary for engineering-oriented projects as in science-oriented ones

6 Perform

test protocol

5 Design

test protocol

7 Performexperiments & data analysis

4 Build apparatus and/orwrite software

8 Evaluate results

3 Plan fordata analysis

9 Communi-cate results &conclusions

2 Design experiments

10 Addressfeedback

1 Establish ormodify hypothesis

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

project expectations
Project Expectations
  • If the project is well designed and carried out, the output of the project (data, designs, analysis, etc.) should form the core (or all of) a publication in a research journal.
  • Students are graded by their faculty mentor for the entire project (often 1 year long) in the quarter in which the student completes it.
  • Completion requirements include a written document in the format of a paper for publication, and, for honors students, an oral presentation.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

capstone project scope
Capstone Project Scope
  • Not too small
    • The work should be significant, and novel.
    • Work should be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal, either as a first author publication, or as a section of one in which another person is the primary author
  • Not too big
    • Being overly ambitious is a trap.
    • Projects should be broken into small steps that are accomplishable in much less than the time available to the student.
    • This anticipates the problems that are bound to happen.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

from whose laboratories can the students choose
From whose laboratories can the students choose?
  • Bioengineering Core Faculty
    • Tenured and Tenure Track (have state dollars to support them, and so have teaching duties)
    • Research Track (salaries supported by research dollars, and may not have any teaching duties)
    • Research Scientists are not allowed by UW to be advisors of graduate students
  • Bioengineering Adjunct Faculty
    • Are UW as graduate faculty advisors not in Bioeng, but have once advised or are currently advising Bioeng graduate students
  • Bioengineering Affiliate Faculty
    • Scientist/Engineers not at UW, but with some form of collaborative research or educational project with Bioeng.
    • They may be chosen as capstone advisors only by permission of the department, and with a core faculty member as a co-advisor.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

  • A recent NIH-funded undergraduate training grant (David Castner, PI)
  • 12 competitively selected students are placed in clinical research labs for 3-month summer projects co-mentored by clinical and Bioengineering faculty.
  • Grant provides stipend, travel to an NIH conference, seminars; has some required activities
  • CREE summer projects may be used as the jump-off point for a 482 project
  • Applications due by January of the Junior year

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

preparing for the capstone project
Preparing for the Capstone Project
  • Each student must find a laboratory in which to do the project
  • This may require soul-searching on the part of the students to identify their interests, followed by a good deal of research on the professors, their research and their laboratories
  • There is a schedule of pre-research tasks they must perform

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

fall and winter of junior year tasks for students
Fall and Winter of Junior Year Tasks for Students
  • By the end of Fall quarter
    • Identify general area of research interest and names of exactly 3 faculty members to be interviewed before the end of Winter quarter.
    • Whether or not the student will also apply to CREE.
  • Before or during Winter quarter
    • Interview 3+ faculty members (after having researched the labs, talked to grad students, etc.), leading to a mutual decision to accept student in one laboratory for the 482 project
  • By the first class of Bioen 481 in Spring
    • Identify which 3 faculty the student interviewed and when
    • Identify the lab in which the student will work.
    • Indicate whether a firm agreement has been reached with the PI
  • By week 4 of Spring quarter
    • Identify the specific research topic for your project

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

examples of specific advice to the students
Examples of specific advice to the students
  • View at least one recent research video by each of the top 3 candidates (archived on a departmental web site)
  • Speak to post-docs, graduate and undergraduate students to find out what the labs are like (techniques used, work style, funding stability, presence of other undergrads, pressure level, social life, etc.)
  • Remember that misery loves company, so also talk to students that left the labs
  • Familiarize yourself with at least one recently published research paper by the group
  • Arrange for a ~30 minute meeting with at least 3 professors to discuss possible work in their laboratories.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

examples of student faculty interview issues
Examples of Student-Faculty Interview Issues
  • Students should:
    • be warned that there are reasons why they may be turned down by faculty
    • dress as if they are going to job interviews
    • prepare appropriate informative paperwork (transcript, list of courses, other lab experiences) and bring it or deliver it before the interview
  • Students should not:
    • Be overly casual (in speech, actions, or dress)
    • Be excessively familiar
    • Be late or cancel without warning
    • Come without substantial familiarity with the faculty member’s research

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

the bioen 481 class spring quarter junior year
The Bioen 481 Class Spring quarter, Junior year
  • Four major aims
    • To provide all students with the personal and professional skills necessary to working with their mentors in a research laboratory.
    • To ensure that all students prepare a plan for completing their Capstone Research/Design projects on time.
    • To explore the nature of science and engineering and how they interact with the individuals, society, and world around them
    • To prepare students for making intelligent and informed career decisions during and after college

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

lecture and in class discussion topics
Topics include

Comparison of Scientific Research and Engineering Design

Developing Good Technical Writing Skills

Surviving and Thriving in a Research Laboratory

Career Paths for Bioengineers

The Intimate Relationship between Science, Engineering and Government

Funding Science and Engineering

What Differentiates Good Science/Engineering from Bad

Developing Bioengineering Ethics

Predicting the Important Bioengineering Technologies for the Next 50 Years

There are generally guest lectures on the following topics

Intellectual Property

Science, Engineering and the Law

Technology Transfer

The Nature of Small Businesses

Global Health Issues

Medical Ethics

Lecture and In-Class Discussion Topics

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

why reading science fiction enhances the 481 learning experience
Why Reading Science Fiction Enhances the 481 Learning Experience
  • Most of what our students are taught is about things that pertained >20 years in the past
  • Most of our students’ working careers will occur 10 - 50 years in the future
  • A successful career will, in part, be based on our students making good guesses of what will be important in the future.
  • Good science fiction writers as a profession extrapolate from what we know to what we may know and do.
  • In a good SF story, and author can try out new ideas, new technology, and new science, in a realistic context
  • The story can extrapolate the personal/social/political implications of the science/technology
  • A good science fiction writer is running a form of simulation.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class deliverables i
481 Class “deliverables” I
  • Several self-selected sets of students are responsible for leading small group discussions of key ideas presented in specific science fiction readings that their group reads
  • These readings are generally science fiction books that incorporate as central themes issues of importance to Bioengineering (e.g., tissue engineering, sale of human organs,alteration of human genetics, cloning, machine-based artificial intelligence)
  • Teams are graded on the degree to which they create informative and stimulating discussion related to the topics presented in the readings for the session.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class deliverables ii
481 Class “deliverables” II
  • We find that many of our students are completely dissociated from news events of any kind.
  • This activity is included to promote a habit of life-long connection with the unfolding events around them.
  • For a period during the class students are asked to keep a log of news items related to bioengineering topics.
  • News items may come from any source, including newspapers, television, the internet, and direct experience.
  • The students are graded on the quantity and quality of the entries in this log.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class deliverables iii
481 Class “deliverables” III
  • Students perform a brief patent search using one or more sources (USPTO, for example).
  • Students play the role of an inventor in a small company who believes he or she has invented a new and effective biomedical device—the nature of the device is chosen as part of the assignment.
  • The task is to find out if such a device already exists, how it differs (or they differ) from the “novel” device, who owns the patents and who licensed them, and whether the company that licensed the patent(s) is likely to be able to commercialize that technology, or has already done so.
  • The deliverable is a 2-page write-up including patent numbers.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class deliverables iv
481 Class “deliverables” IV
  • Students write and hand in two drafts of their 482 research plan. The papers contain 4 principal elements:
    • the social and technical background of their capstone project (3 pages)
    • a specific set of experiments to be carried out during the next year (3 pages)
    • a timetable of all work to be done during the next year, including both classes and research, with estimated dates of completion of all steps (1 page)
    • a detailed bibliography for parts 1 and 2, done in numbered format (with in-text citations) and full titles of all references (1 page)
  • The first draft is graded for content, but not form
  • The second draft is graded for both form and content.
    • In it, writing must be in good formal (not colloquial) English, with attention paid to punctuation, reference formatting, grammar, etc.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class deliverables v
481 Class “deliverables” V
  • A 3-minute oral presentation of the research plan is made to the entire class as a test of oral presentation skills as a final exam
  • This gives all Juniors a chance to see what interesting projects their fellow student are undertaking
  • This has been remarkably popular despite the fact that it is an exam.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

481 class grading
481 Class Grading

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

  • There are still only two classes that have completed 482 projects, so the program is still a work in progress.
  • Undergraduate students are making substantial contributions to the research programs of their mentors.
  • Graduate students and faculty mentors have been pleasantly surprised at the eagerness, competence and efficiency of the undergrads.
  • Most students have been completing their 482 projects on time and to everyone’s satisfaction.
  • Some 482 projects (as well as internships) have led to hiring of Bioengineering students by companies that have participated directly or indirectly in those projects.
  • So far, the experiment has been a great success.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington

things to change
Things to change
  • Add a slide near the beginning that shows the timetable more clearly and points out that BIOEN 482 is 8 credits. The required prerequisite, BIOEN 481 prepares the students for 482, is 4 credits.

Senior Capstone Project, University of Washington