For students interested in studying biomechanical engineering, especially in the field of surgery, this lesson serves as an anatomy and physiology primer of the abdominopelvic cavity. Students are introduced to the abdominopelvic cavity—a region of the body that is the focus of laparoscopic surgery—as well as the benefits and drawbacks of laparoscopic surgery. Understanding the abdominopelvic environment and laparoscopic surgery is critical for biomechanical engineers who design laparoscopic surgical tools.
Students teams use a laparoscopic surgical trainer to perform simple laparoscopic surgery tasks (dissections, sutures) using laparoscopic tools. Just like in the operating room, where the purpose is to perform surgery carefully and quickly to minimize patient trauma, students' surgery time and mistakes are observed and recorded to quantify their performances. They learn about the engineering component of surgery.
Student teams create laparoscopic surgical robots designed to reduce the invasiveness of diagnosing endometriosis and investigate how the disease forms and spreads. Using a synthetic abdominal cavity simulator, students test and iterate their remotely controlled, camera-toting prototype devices, which must fit through small incisions, inspect the organs and tissue for disease, obtain biopsies, and monitor via ongoing wireless image-taking. Note: This activity is the core design project for a semester-long, three-credit high school engineering course. Refer to the associated curricular unit for preparatory lessons and activities.
Biomechanical engineering is an interdisciplinary field of science that applies the rules and principles of mechanical engineering to biological systems. It combines elements of many disciplines, including biology, engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics to better understand how physical forces influence living organisms. A biomechanical engineer may find work in the medical, scientific, industrial or governmental sectors. It is also sometimes considered a subset of Mechanical Engineering or Biomedical Engineering.
Why is Engineering a Hot Job? Listen to 3 students from Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Engineering to find out. During the recent VCU Capstone (Senior) Design Expo hundreds of engineering students solved problems and developed new products that will make a difference. Learn why these three students went into Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering.
Student teams build model hand dynamometers used to measure grip strengths of people recovering from sports injuries. They use their models to measure how much force their classmates muscles are capable of producing, and analyze the data to determine factors that influence a person's grip strength. They use this information to produce a recommendation of a hand dynamometer design for a medical office specializing in physical therapy. They also consider the many other ways grip strength data is used by engineers to design everyday products.