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Biomaterials education for a multidisciplinary audience

Dr Louise Smith | University of South Australia

Biomaterials education for a multidisciplinary audience

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In 2012 The University of South Australia (UniSA) launched its Batchelor of Science (Advanced Materials) degree. One of the courses developed for this was a second year course Nano and Biomaterials. This course is a compulsory course for students in the Advanced Materials degree but is also a university wide elective. As such there can be no prerequisites for students wishing to participate in this course. Using CES EduPack a problem based learning element was incorporated into the course. Three assessed assignments were prepared with a design focus. The assignments were 1) a total hip replacement focusing on reducing bone resorption due to stress shielding, 2) total hip replacement focusing on surface treatments for improved osseointegration, and 3) development of biodegradable wound dressings. These allowed students to explore the differences in the material properties of the human body, both hard and soft tissues, and the material properties of current biomaterial implants. It also encouraged independent research. Students were split in their acceptance of the problem based learning methods. This may be due to the need to use the specific CES EduPack software which is only available on campus. Therefore those students who attended lectures and would use UniSA resources to support their work excelled. Those who chose not to attend campus struggled as they then struggled to find other online resources to allow them to complete assignments. By focusing on selecting materials with appropriate material and surface properties for different applications, students who did not have a strong maths or physics background grasped the core concepts. They were therefore able to finish the course with a solid foundation in materials science as well as an appreciation of the added complexity when designing for the human body