Biomedical Engineer – SCOPES-DF

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Brian Purvis
Brian Purvis
Brian is the former Manager of Instruction for the GE Brilliant Career Lab, a curriculum centered mobile FAB Lab that served Boston area public high schools.  Previously he led the Gilbert Innovation Hub, where he leveraged his 18 years as… Read More


This lesson reflects on “Everyday in the life of a Biomedical Engineer”

What does a Biomedical Engineer do?

Biomedical Engineer
Conduct research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, on the engineering aspects of the biological systems of humans and animals. Design and develop medical diagnostic and clinical instrumentation, equipment, and procedures, using the principles of engineering and biobehavioral sciences. Research new materials to be used for products, such as implanted artificial organs. Develop models or computer simulations of human biobehavioral systems to obtain data for measuring or controlling life processes. Adapt or design computer hardware or software for medical science uses.

Related careers include those listed below:

Physicians who treat diseases, injuries, and deformities by invasive, minimally-invasive, or non-invasive surgical methods, such as using instruments, appliances, or by manual manipulation.

Synthetic Biologist
Develop usable, tangible products, using knowledge of biology, chemistry, or engineering. Solve problems related to materials, systems, or processes that interact with humans, plants, animals, microorganisms, or biological materials.

What You'll Need

Teacher Preparation
Supplies, facility needs, prerequisite skills and knowledge, student types, period length etc. classroom management

Facility Needs
Class set of internet enabled computers (Chromebooks will work), 3D Printer with generic splint file, pre-printed generic splints for each table, two colors of small post it notes, and writing utensils. Technology needs include a projector/TV with appropriate connection to a computer. The ability to stream video via YouTube.

Materials List
Markers, Easel pad (1 sheet for each team), and small sticky notes in varying colors

Digital Fabrication Software & Equipment
Tinkercad (3D modeling) and 3D printer

Design Files attachment
3D TinkerCAD Files

The Instructions

Step One: Engage – Day #1 (Introduce students to a splint, and share ideas to develop a new design.) 15 minutes


  • Computers and TinkerCAD
  • Example of 3D printed splint
  • Ability to connect to the internet
  1. As students enter the classroom, the instructor will have the 3D printer producing the generic splint file.
  2. The teacher will organize students into teams of 2-4 people.
  3. As the 3D printer continues to print, the instructor will introduce the activity and pose the question: “Imagine that you jammed your finger. How would the 3D printed splint on your table meet your needs? In what ways does the design not meet your needs?” Student should use the sticky notes to record these positives and negatives on different colors. These comments should be posted in two designated areas, preferably on opposite sides of the room.
  4. Students are asked to read the posted comments as they post their ideas.
  5. The instructor shares that “3D printing has a unique power to allow customization of projects.”

Step Two: Explore, Prepare, and Explain – Day #1(Provide context about making a splint and introduction to CAD software.)


  • Ability to connect to internet
  • Computers and TinkerCAD

Explore and Prepare

40 minutes

Teacher tells students: “Imagine if when a basketball player jammed their finger during a game. Now, imagine the player was fitted with a personalized splint before the end of the game. Over the next four days we are going to learn about design with 3D printing and discover the power of creating our own custom medical instrument.”

  1. The instructor tells the students that “their first step toward making their own 3D prints is becoming familiar with the software.”
  2. The instructor leads the students in signing-up for Tinkercad online. a.
      1. The software is web based, free, and saves automatically to the cloud so it can be accessed on any internet connected computer.
  3. After signing up for Tinkercad the students are directed to complete the six tutorial exercises under the “Learn” tab.
  4. After completing the six tutorials students are encouraged to explore the wide range of designs other “makers” have created under the “Gallery” tab.

Step Three: Explain – Day #15
5 minutes

The instructor starts class with a challenge:

  1. “Today we will be creating custom splints in Tinkercad that fit your smallest finger and your thumb.”
  2. The instructor shows the students how to search under the “Gallery” tab for splints.
  3. The students “Copy and Tinker” a splint of their choice.

Step Four to Step Six: Elaborate, Evaluate, Engage – Day #2(Collect measurements, innovate, and notice connections to GE careers.)


  • Rulers (one per student or pair of students)
  • Thumb drives
  • Computers and TinkerCAD
  • Ability to connect to internet


Step Four: Elaborate – Day #2

30 minutes

The classroom teacher should become familiar with downloading completed files from Tinkercad, rename them according to a convention, and save the .SVG file to a flash drive before class starts. (Choose Design Download for 3D Printing)

  1. Students are given a ruler and asked to make the necessary “real-world,” measurements (of their fingers) in order to adjust the Tinkercad version of the splint to their specific measurements. Students should use the measurement system commonly used in their classroom. Often metric for science and math, U.S. customary for subjects like English. Students should be advised to make sure that the scale is the same on both their ruler, and in Tinkercad. (Please note: students can adjust the scale under “edit grid” near the bottom of the Tinkercad workspace.)
  2. As students finish, the classroom teacher leads the effort to show students how to download their files when finished with Tinkercad, rename their .SVG file for school/class/student, and save them to a thumb drive. (Note: Students may need more time to create a 3D rendering, and space to iterate.)

Step Five: Evaluate – Day #2

15 minutes

  1. The classroom teacher brings finished files to the BCL instructor for printing.
  2. The BCL instructor begins printing student designed splints. When their splint finishes, the student tests the splint and uses the post its to critique their effort much like they did with the initial splint on day #1. “What works about the splint?” “How could the splint be made better?”
  3. Please note: 3D printing will occur outside of class hours. It may take 45-minutes to 2-hours to complete each 3D design.

Step Six: Engage – Day #2

15 minutes

  1. The BCL instructor shows the video “GE: In the Wild of GE’s Revolutionary CT Scanner”
    • Difference between CT and MRI – 3D X-Ray vs Moving Magnet
  2. The BCL instructor leads the students in a discussion of how 3D printing and CT scanning partner in the video. (The 3D Scanner captures 3D renderings of images that can be printed using the 3D printer.) The emphasis of the discussion is on taking old ideas and using them as impetus for innovation.

Step Seven: Explore – Day #3 (Familiarize students with the Engineering Design Process.)


  • Computers and TinkerCAD
  • Easel
  • Sticky notes
  • Examples of 3D printed splints
  • Ability to connect to internet to show Youtube video

40 minutes

  1. The teacher shows the video “Engineering Design Process Taco Party” to familiarize students with the process they will be using to create their own medical devices
  2. Student teams brainstorm common devices used in medicine (ranging from medicine droppers to bandaids to prosthetics). They then consider how 3D printing could make that device better. (Examples: customizable bandaids, customizable medicine droppers (specific amount), custom fit knee braces, print on demand teaching models for organs, etc.)
    • To learn more about 3D Printing take a look at this video
      1. What is 3D Printing?
  3. Students record their brainstorm using an easel pad.
  4. Student teams post their brainstorms on a wall.
  5. All students participate in a “gallery walk” of each group’s brainstorm using small sticky notes to give feedback around each team’s brainstorm.
  6. The instructor shows the D News episode on 3D printing in medicine​(Please note: suitable only​for high school students).
    • This video demonstrates the breadth of application for 3D printing in medicine.

Step Eight: Elaborate – Day #4 (Create 3D renderings.)


  • Computers and TinkerCAD
  • 3D Printer

40 minutes

  1. Students use Tinkercad to design their medical device following the Engineering Design Process.
  2. The teacher provides feedback and collects completed designs on the flashdrive for printing by the BCL instructor.

Step Nine: Evaluate – Day #5

Time: Ranges from hours to days depending on projects. (Can be 6+ hours of printing time.)

  1. The BCL instructor prints the student’s biomedical device designs over the next several days. (Depending on the size, complexity and number of designs, the range of time necessary can be from hours to days.)
  2. Upon completion of all devices, student groups display their creations in a gallery walk. Students use sticky notes notes to leave feedback on designs.
  3. Students use the ​Brilliant Career Lab​website to evaluate GE careers to which they might best be suited. (The website provides an in depth questionnaire that gives guidance to students about career choices.)

Lesson Feedback

4 Reviews

  1. Aidan Mullaney October 29, 2018
  2. Sonya Pryor-Jones February 14, 2019
  3. Fablab Winam May 28, 2019
    • Brian Purvis May 30, 2019
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