Experiential Learning

The B.S. in BME requires students to engage in experiential learning activities through an innovative, year-long course in their junior year. This course enables students to discern and apply their skills and knowledge gained from the curriculum to these experiences, and hones critical professional skills for effective science and community engagement. Experts from a variety of professional, team-building, and self-assessment disciplines train students and guide team discussions.

While the B.S. curriculum provides essential knowledge and technical preparation for careers in biomedical engineering, there is more to proper BME education. Courses are best at teaching you what is already known, and the exercises provided are often within a contained intellectual space to build confidence. Equally important, however, is gaining experience utilizing those skills and knowledge to meet unforeseen challenges and problems where solutions are not readily apparent. The stakeholders and beneficiaries of BME products are highly diverse, requiring unique communication strategies and skills. Acquiring these skills can only be obtained through experiencing these situations, working through and reflecting on them. Some examples of experiential learning opportunities are highlighted below:

Jordan Harrod in front of her research poster at BMES 2017
Jordan Harrod ‘18 presenting research at the BMES 2017 conference

Undergraduate Research: 
Undergraduate research is an option for any undergraduate student interested in finding out what academic research is all about. Nearly every faculty member in the department advises undergraduate research. Students are encouraged to visit faculty websites and read about the research going on in the department, then to contact faculty about opportunities for participating in research in that research group. Often students have opportunities to present their research in undergraduate research poster sessions at Cornell and at outside scientific meetings and some students become authors on scientific papers.  

Although some students may be able to secure funding through individual faculty research grants or may instead opt to gain academic credit for a research project, the College of Engineering's Research Student Grant Program offers an additional source of support.

Cornell Student Project Teams
The Engineering Student Project Team program provides opportunities for students across all engineering and related disciplines to participate in hands-on interdisciplinary design, development, and construction of novel methods and/or models.  Students use technology, knowledge, creativity, entrepreneurism, and leadership skills to design and fabricate the projects, then engage in national and international competitions and service projects to show them to the world.  Teamwork is fundamental to project success for all of the teams in the program.  

  • Debut - Biomedical Engineering Project Team
    Debut is an engineering project team of undergraduate students across 17 majors who come together to develop innovative solutions for current biomedical concerns. After two years of in-depth research and development, our project is submitted to VentureWell’s Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams (DEBUT) competition, where it is judged based on innovation, marketability, and patentability.
  • Cornell University Genetically Engineered Machines (CU GEM) 
    CU GEM is an international award-winning, biology-inspired project team based at Cornell and run by undergraduates from various disciplines and levels of expertise across the university. The group's vision is to create synthetic biology (application of systems design to complex biological processes) tools and processes that will offer breakthrough answers to the many needs of industry and the economy and to compete at the world’s premier synthetic biology competition - international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM).

bme students working with tanzania students
BME undergrads Emma Stowe '20 (middle) and Roanne Yehia '20 (lower right) working on a fetal doppler monitor with Arusha Technical College students and instructors, Fadhili Malisa, Shaban Khalfan and Asmin Issa in Tanzania as part of an Engaged Cornell grant.

Engaged Cornell
Engaged Cornell is renewing and expanding Cornell’s founding commitment to “knowledge with a public purpose.” At the core of this initiative is innovation in teaching and learning through shared practices that connect students, faculty, and curricula with communities and the public realm across the globe. 

Engineering World Health (EWH)
The Cornell Engineering World Health chapter was founded in the fall of 2012 by a group of undergraduates who wanted to make a meaningful impact in the world, even as students. This mission has become the core foundation of EWH as a project team that seeks to make innovative and low-cost medical devices for developing countries and low-resource communities. From idea conception, to design, to final prototyping, Cornell EWH has created several devices with the potential for impact. While in the past the team has submitted prototype designs to an international competition, and placed 3rd in their first submission, the team is now working on building devices that will be directly implemented by health care workers in low-resource communities.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) 
Engineers Without Borders–Cornell Student Chapter is a student-led, interdisciplinary team focused on community-driven, sustainable development projects. It is a group of 42 students from all engineering majors committed to forming long-lasting relationships with developing communities around the world and fostering an ethic of responsible engineering. EWB partners with underdeveloped international communities to help improve its standard of living and meet its greatest need while giving students a global perspective and hands-on engineering experience.

Cornell-Tanzania collaboration on medical equipment

In a mutual exchange program, students from Cornell's Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering and Arusha Technical College in Tanzania combine their skills and knowledge to fix broken medical equipment and collaborate on senior design capstone projects.