Walking through the UA Whitaker basement, hardworking students dressed in lab coats are busily designing and conducting lab experiments for required lab classes BMED 3110 and BMED 3610. The director of these labs is Dr. Esfandiar “Essy” Behravesh. In this position since the end of 2006, Behravesh was previously employed at the Johnson Space Center and Zimmer Orthobiologics. One of the largest orthopedic device makers in the country, Zimmer Orthobiologics focuses on the development of implantable medical devices and biomaterials for the orthopedic market. There, Behravesh worked to find solutions to repair and regenerate damaged orthopedic tissues.
Within the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, Behravesh supervises the BMED 3110, Quantitative Engineering Physiology Laboratory I, and BMED 3610, Quantitative Engineering Physiology Laboratory II. These two hands-on labs provide active learning and reinforce basic physiology and engineering principles through lab experiments to give students more experience in the research environment. In BMED 3110, students work on the frog muscle lab, which teaches basic mechanics. In addition, the mechanical testing lab uses commercial products and basic hardware components to teach students how to use low tech materials and equipment to create high tech devices. Behravesh explains that it is common to run into a “good problem,” such as bad signals or noise.
According to Behravesh, BMED 3110 is the most difficult instructional lab course, especially since the curriculum changed two years ago. It is the first research lab where a “cookbook” set of directions is not available to lead students. At the beginning, the students are given guidance, but they soon learn to understand how to proceed with the experiment by themselves with their own objective. Nonetheless, it is hard for students to adjust to this type of class setup. When asked about his favorite lab assignments, Behravesh states that the labs that make his students excited are his favorites These labs are usually the animal experiments and the Wii Nintendo lab. The student favorites seem to be anatomy projects, especially the heart lab.
Behravesh believes all students will take away skills in instrumentation, design, analysis, teamwork, planning and importance of creativity when designing. He tries to gear the labs from strictly educational to what a real research lab would be like. Students must apply their knowledge and be resourceful because they are tackling open ended problems. Students are also applying what they learned in their previous lecture classes in the labs.
In his day-to-day work, Behravesh is inspired by the great students at this institute. He knows that his students will go on to accomplish great achievements, which gives him joy in helping prepare them for their journey forward.