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Using 3D Slicer in University Biomedical Engineering Degrees

Key Investigators

Project Description

Biomedical engineering is taught across the World in many universities. It is a multidisciplinary field, where students have to reach a theoretical and practical understanding in different areas such as mathematics, physics, biology, computer science, electrical engineering, medical imaging, mechanical engineering, robotics, simulation, clinical workflows, hospital management systems, big data analysis and processing, health economics, standardization, etc.

There are many possible approaches to get an understanding of such multidisciplinary topics. In any case, the students must not only grab the theoretical concepts, but also learn how to apply them in the practical situations faced by clinical workflows during healthcare, hospital and health system management, translational clinical research and manufacturing and commercialization of medical equipment.

3D Slicer could be a very useful tool to facilitate such practical understanding from different perspectives in several areas. As a clinical research translation tool it can also help to provide students down-to-earth yet innovative challenges and solutions that boost their motivation.

For example, programming and software engineering skills can be addressed by developing some Python modules within 3D Slicer. Image and data processing algorithms can also be implemented as laboratory classes within it. Image guided therapy applications could give an opportunity to better understand and leverage the convergence of image computing, electric and mechanical engineering around practical problems. The available DICOM support shows in a practical way the need for standardization and how to deal with it in the specific case of medical images. For more specific topics, such as medical imaging, medical image computing, surgical planning or computer-assisted medical intervention 3D Slicer provides an advanced platform where many different engineering aspects can be trained. Moreover, 3D Slicer also provides an excellent tool to teach specific medical topics, both in the medical and the biomedical engineering schools, such as for example, anatomy or some surgeries.

The discussion should be kept as open as possible. Some universities might benefit by using Slicer in only one specific subject, while others could do it for different subjects across a university degree at any level (bachelor, master, PhD).

As a first element for discussion, a draft proposal is provided of a reference bachelor level degree in biomedical engineering. Its structure has been adopted by reviewing programs in different World universities. As a reference model, it should be adapted to the specific needs of each university and environment.

  1. Draft model of reference for a bachelor level beiomedical engineering degree: first proposal to be discussed

Objectives

  1. To set reference biomedical engineering programs at subject, bachelor, master and PhD levels that could be taken as models of reference across the World by leveraging the expertise of the NAMIC community.
  2. To identify where in such degrees 3D Slicer could be used as an educational tool to improve both the understanding of engineering and medical aspects.
  3. To propose contents for specific subjects and laboratories where 3D Slicer could be useful for biomedical education, and share educational strategies across our community.
  4. To provide open access educational content for such uses of 3D Slicer, and to facilitate its learning curve in order to make all its potential widely available for biomedical engineering education across the World.

Approach and Plan

  1. Identify interested parties and set up a working group.
  2. Gather information about biomedical engineering degrees in which members of the NAMIC community are involved and others that could be taken as successful models of reference.
  3. Identify the proper role of 3D Slicer to improve biomedical engineering education.
  4. Agree on a strategy to provide high quality open access content and identify funding sources to develop it.
  5. Share continuously local experiences as they happen.