BMED 2300/2310: Skills to Learn

“I check the length using my ruler. Shoot! My widget height is 0.3 inches off from the 2 inches I wanted so I’m going to have to start over. It looks like it’s going to be a long night as I, yet again, redraw and recut the paper before I glue it all together. Why am I doing this pointless exercise again? I’m not going to be making paper boxes in industry.”

Looking back at 2300 (2310 as it is now known), I have come to realize that many of the things we accomplished in the class – our sketchpad homework, the widgets, the multitude of properly defined lines in Solidworks – were all meant to build two paramount skills: precision and accuracy. As engineers, we all have to be able to work quickly, but also meticulously. With the nature of the projects that BME students work upon, the calculations, measurements, and designs all directly impact the target population which can be a fairly large group of people. Sometimes, it means having to go back and redesign; left imperfect, a part failure in, for instance, an invasive surgery device could spell disaster.

Another skill learned from 2310 – the ability to draw relatively straight lines freehand or working on 2-point perspective – might give students flashbacks to middle school art class. In practice though, drawing all the lines as accurately and the figures as similar as possible to the device to reproduce the device’s image in concept sketches. Accurately and precisely drawn concept sketches allow others to easily relate their idea to investors and peers so that they can understand how parts of the device assembly are supposed to fit together and function.

Most people who have taken 2300/2310 can clearly see how their redesign projects sharpen their design and analysis skills, especially as they pertain to research and development, but often fail to realize just how equally critical many of the skills the smaller assignments impart. These seemingly minor tasks are just as invaluable in any engineer’s toolbox of skills; while they may not show how a CPR mask functions or the proper way to assemble an artificial hip joint, these smaller assignments help develop a fundamental sense of precision and accuracy that is critical for the keen engineer when designing a new medical device.