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Bioinformatics and Proteomics: An Engineering Problem Solving-Based Approach

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2 Author(s)
Gil Alterovitz ; Div. of Health Sci. & Technol., MIT, Cambridge, MA ; Marco F. Ramoni

There is a growing need for engineers in the burgeoning fields of bioinformatics and proteomics. The high-throughput nature of both of these related fields has made traditional biological methods, which tend to focus on one or two molecules at a time, obsolete. The consequent deluge of experiment-based information has made engineering and problem-solving skills essential to attack the resulting complex, multiscale problems. Certain technologies, such as robotics automation, microfabrication, control, and signal processing, are particularly amenable to the engineering expertise of electrical and other engineering disciplines. This paper describes methodologies and findings from 6.092/HST.480, two courses taught in 2005, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that focused on bioinformatics and proteomics with an engineering-based, problem-solving approach. Many questions exist regarding how such interdisciplinary courses should be structured. For example, what should be the prerequisites, and what teaching methods could be successfully used? The course teaching style involved an elaboration, theory-based approach so that students could extend and apply engineering concepts at increasing levels of complexity as the course progressed. In addition, the biological epitomes used were in increasing levels of abstraction. On subsequent evaluations, students had high praise for the teaching, and several pursued further research in this area. Analysis of the student feedback suggested that this course served a previously unfilled need

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Education  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 1 )