Medical and Biological Engineering in the Next 20 Years: The Promise and the Challenges

In 2011, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) ( celebrated its 20th anniversary by undertaking to identify major societal challenges to which medical and biological engineers can contribute solutions in the next 20 years. This report is a summary of the six major challenges that were identified. The report also discusses some specific areas within these high-level challenges that can form the basis for policy action, provides a brief rationale for pursuing those areas, and discusses roadblocks to progress. The six overarching challenges are: 1) engineering safe and sustainable water and food supply, 2) engineering personalized health care, 3) engineering solutions to injury and chronic diseases, 4) engineering global health through infectious disease prevention and therapy, 5) engineering sustainable bioenergy production, and 6) engineering the 21st century US economy. While arrived at independently by AIMBE, many of the elements overlap with similar challenges identified by other bodies. The similarities highlight the central mission of medical and biological engineers, working with other experts, which is to solve important problems central to human health and welfare.

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Free Online Course Will Rely on Multiple Sites



A group of online-learning ventures is collaborating on a new kind of free class to be offered this fall, known as a mechanical MOOC (for “massive open online course”), that will teach a computer-programming language by patching together existing resources from open-learning sites.

Unlike courses already available online, the new class will not require a traditional instructor, or a large start-up investment.

The new course, “A Gentle Introduction to Python,” will blend content from M.I.T.’s OpenCourseWare, instant-feedback exercises and quizzes from Codecademy, and study groups organized by OpenStudy, and will be coordinated through an e-mail list operated by Peer 2 Peer University.

“The MOOCs that have come out in the last six months are really incredible and have truly moved the needle for online learning, but they are based on very sophisticated central platforms and require significant resources to develop,” Philipp Schmidt, Peer 2 Peer University’s co-founder, said in a statement.

“The mechanical MOOC is an attempt to leverage the power of the open Web, by loosely joining together a set of independent building blocks,” he said.

The mechanical MOOC will not be as tightly structured as the free courses now offered by leading universities like Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania through Coursera or edX, which have enrolled more than a million students. (While M.I.T. is involved in both edX and the new project, they are separate.)

Unlike edX courses, the mechanical MOOC will not offer a certificate of completion. However, students can earn a badge from Codecademy to document their achievement.

The collaborators say that the components of education — content, community and assessment — all exist online, although not in one place. Combining top sites for each, they say, should result in a course that is as good as the far more costly approach taken by Coursera, edX and others, albeit a less polished experience, where the pieces are not custom-created to fit together neatly. If the first course works, they say, it could spur many more  similar offerings.

OpenStudy will provide a forum where all learners in the class can choose to participate in a mass study group, or can be assigned to a study group of 10.

The creators of the mechanical MOOC hope that the new model will help increase the percentage of students who complete their courses.

Currently, only one in 10, or fewer, who sign up for MOOCs make it all the way through, either because they signed up while casually browsing, or because they are unable to keep up with the hours of work required each week.

In the mechanical MOOC, those who fall behind can repeat units where needed and work at their own pace.

“We want to do more than sign up tens of thousands of students and have only a fraction succeed,” Preetha Rom, the co-founder of OpenStudy, said in a statement.  “Our goal is to have everyone who participates succeed.”

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Graduate program (Master) in Biomedical Engineering at UFABC!

The registration period for the selection process for 2012 is May 16 to June 22, 2012 and the exams will be conducted in the first half of July 2012. See more information on the page of the selection process.

If you want to do Masters in Biomedical Engineering, look for an adiviser in the program as soon as possible.

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Four open positions for faculty at the Biomedical Engineering program

[important]The Biomedical Engineering program is hiring four new assistant professors.
The positions are for Biomedical Instrumentation (1), Biomedical Signal Processing (1) and Modeling, Simulation and Analysis of Biomedical Systems (2). Registration is open until February, 1st, 2012. For more information, see the Public notice 116/2011 (, the UFABC page for faculty hiring ( or contact us (email: or telephone: 55 (11) 4996-7940).[/important]

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Blog of the Biomedical Engineering

Welcome to the blog of the Biomedical Engineering of the UFABC. We are part of an innovative new course in biomedical engineering and this is our space for dissemination and discussion.

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