In Fall 2011, I was selected to be a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for BME 458, a senior- and graduate-level design course. This course taught basic circuit principles (building filters and amplifiers) and LabVIEW design principles (data acquisiton, analysis, and instrument control). The students applied these principles in building fundamental biomedical instruments such as an EKG, a spirometer and a pulse oximeter. For their final project, students built a device of their choosing, incorporating the signal conditioning, data acquisition, real-time analysis, and device control principles they had learned during the class. Some of the projects included muscle-controlled cars and robotic arms, EOG- and breath-controlled mouse cursor movements, a temperature-controlled bioreactor, and converting blinking into morse code for typing.
This class was a joy to teach. The projects required design, fabrication, and test and were at an appropriate level for the students. I also devoted a significant portion of my time to helping them manage the dynamics of working in groups of four, typically 12-20 hours of lab work and on the effort needed to complete each project. I focused particular attention on teaching the LabVIEW components of the class. Teaching the students how to build state machines, and how to build programs that could process the data in real-time to control their devices was particularly rewarding.
In Winter 2012, I was selected to be a GSI for BME 450, a senior-level semester-long capstone design course. In this course, teams of four students were paired with professors in the university or outside companies, and each team was given a unique project related to that professors' own research. The course focused on teaching students the iterative design process, from analyzing the need, defining the parameters of the design space, and then designing, building, and testing prototypes. A special emphasis was placed on developing good technical communication skills. This class was enjoyable to teach because of the uniqueness of each team and project, and the excitement of going through the design process and successfully producing a working prototype at the end of the semester.