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RescuShell: A Biomechanical Design Epistemic Game for First-Year Engineering Education and Potentially Increased Retention of Women

[+] Author Affiliations
Dan E. Tetrick, Daniel Farley, Golnaz Arastoopour, Michael Zinn, David Williamson Shaffer, Naomi C. Chesler

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, WI

Paper No. SBC2013-14069, pp. V01AT06A002; 2 pages
  • ASME 2013 Summer Bioengineering Conference
  • Volume 1A: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms; Active and Reactive Soft Matter; Atherosclerosis; BioFluid Mechanics; Education; Biotransport Phenomena; Bone, Joint and Spine Mechanics; Brain Injury; Cardiac Mechanics; Cardiovascular Devices, Fluids and Imaging; Cartilage and Disc Mechanics; Cell and Tissue Engineering; Cerebral Aneurysms; Computational Biofluid Dynamics; Device Design, Human Dynamics, and Rehabilitation; Drug Delivery and Disease Treatment; Engineered Cellular Environments
  • Sunriver, Oregon, USA, June 26–29, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Bioengineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5560-7
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The American engineering workforce lacks the size and diversity needed to maintain its place as the world leader in science and technology. Across the United States, academic institutions are attempting to retain men and especially women in engineering degree paths by providing introductory coursework that motivates them to persist to graduation. Epistemic games provide students with an authentic engineering experience that may increase their persistence towards engineering degrees. This authentic experience, which we refer to as a virtual internship, helps students create an engineering epistemic frame, in which their skills and knowledge are linked a developing engineering identity, values, and epistemology. RescuShell is an epistemic game that was developed to provide this virtual internship experience for first-year engineering students and increase the persistence of women. In RescuShell, students complete a biomechanical engineering design project in which they create an arm joint for a human enhancement suit. Students research the joint’s actuators, control sensors, power sources, types of articulation, and materials. Completed designs are assessed by the company’s various stakeholders for their ability to meet thresholds for safety, agility, payload, work capacity, reliability, and cost. We anticipate that RescuShell will motivate more men and women to persist to engineering degrees and future careers in the engineering profession than traditional first-year engineering coursework.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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