Bridging the gap between industry and academia [Letters to the Editor]

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  • Letters to the Editor

    bridging the gapbetween industry and academia

    The second sentence in the Pointof View column in the Septem-ber/October 2007 issue of IEEEEngineering in Medicine and

    Biology Magazine, . . . if the engineer. . . did not want to become a researcher,I had difficulty answering this ques-tion, brings out a point, which Ibelieve is a growing problem in aca-demia. The gap and lack of understand-ing between the industry and academiais growing. We can barely find usefulengineers fresh from university any-more, which was very different 20 yearsago. They are good in research andtheory but have never built an elec-tronic circuit with their own hands.Many cant even solder, and if I findthat out in an interview, I usually advisemy client not to hire.Your institute offers courses such as

    medical devices. Dont let that end withsome PowerPoint slides. Get someparts, soldering irons, scopes, and othertools, and let the students actually buildan ECG or something similar with their

    own hands and not on a MATLABscreen or SPICE simulator. Likewise,the professors should come out of theirivory towers and talk to research anddevelopment (R&D) people in theindustry. Go out there, see what theirwork is like (thats what many of yourstudents will have to do later), whattheir concerns are, and what they thinkof freshly degreed engineers. Dont talkto the HR folks, talk to the folks inR&D, with the emphasis not onresearch but on development becausethats what ultimately brings in therevenue and, consequently, that is goingto be what most engineers will later do.

    Joerg Schulze-ClewingCameron Park, California

    Dear Joerg,Thank you for your comments. I com-

    pletely agree with you. My medicaldevice course includes a series of labs thatintroduce the students to clinical applica-tions as well as course concepts. Forexample, in the echocardiography lab,each group of three students learns howto measure stroke volume and ejection

    fraction using a Sonosite MicroMaxxhand-carried ultrasound unit. One studentacts as the patient, and the other twoswitch between positioning the ultra-sound transducer on the patient and man-ning the console. While it takes about3045 min of trial and error before theyare able to see the parasternal long axisview of the heart, they are consistentlyawed by the pulsing of mitral leaflets.There is no better demonstration of theacoustic impedance of tissues than studentfrustration in always pushing gel out fromunder the transducer and having to reap-ply more gel to restore the image. Inanother lab, they build a cardiograph anddetermine the frequency at which aliasingbegins while monitoring a fellow student.I do not use anyMATLAB simulations.In terms of professors talking to R&D

    people, that is what my school has beendoing in hiring me and other colleaguesback from the medical device andpharmaceutical industries. Although Irarely write about it in my column, I dohave much experience in development,both in the device and telecom industries.

    Gail Baura

    From the Editor (continued from page 4) Is the budget sufficient to run the

    program? Describe the quality of your students. Do you have sufficient travel funds

    to keep current? Describe the morale of the faculty. What is the student to faculty ratio? Describe how you keep current in

    your profession. How are probability and statistics

    used in the curriculum? Are computing resources sufficient?I also ask questions that are in the ABETtraining material. For example, questionscan be asked for assessment and results. Are data being collected for each


    What is measured? How often? How do you use the data you collect? Does your evaluation provide the

    information that you need toimprove the program?

    What is your feedback process tocontinuously improve the program?

    What actions have been taken toimprove the program as a result ofthe assessment process?

    How do you demonstrate that out-comes are achieved?

    What is your evaluation of thequality of the program?

    What evidence do you have to dem-onstrate that your efforts to improvethe program are producing results?

    Based on your evaluation ofassessment data, what are yourplans for additional improvement?We also provided the program eval-

    uator with all student transcripts for theprevious review and full analysis torequest accreditation retroactive to theprevious year. A program is also sup-posed to have sample student work.I hope that my experiences with

    accreditation prove helpful to otherprograms going through a visit andthat people from industry under-stand what the accreditation processis all about.

    Until the next time,John Enderle

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