• Katherine Pan

Review of BN2111: Biomedical Engineering Principles and Practice II

Updated: May 23, 2021

Year took: AY2019/20 Semester 2


A core module for Biomedical Engineering students, BN2111 focuses on the electrical aspects of medical technology. The module is split into 3 components. The first section is on biomedical signal acquisition and processing using Matlab. No, you do not require Matlab knowledge from the MA15XX series. The second and third sections are on understanding microcontrollers, basic electric circuits, electric components, and system control. BN2111 is vastly different from BN1111, as the content is now more physics heavy. The assessment criteria are as follows:

  1. Quiz 1 (or Graded Homework for my semester) – 20%

  2. Quiz 2 – 30%

  3. Project – 35%

  4. Lab Report – 15%

Lectures:

Every week, there is a 2-hours lecture and a 3-hours lab session. The lectures were not webcast originally but it was webcast later due to COVID. The lectures for the first component were easy to follow and understand. One notable professor that I liked was Prof Poh. Prof Poh was brimming with enthusiasm while teaching about biomedical signal processing. Not going to lie, I felt awful when no one replied to his questions during his lectures and his disappointment was clear as day.


Unfortunately, I have seen this happened many times in other lectures too. (Meme generated from Imgflip.)


For the second component, I felt the difficulty of BN2111 increase exponentially. The explanation of Arduino was well done. It was bite-sized and easy to digest when compared to EG1311. I had taken H2 physics in JC, thus the part on basic electric circuits was basic. The lectures on flow measurements and voltage regulators were new and abstract, so I took more time with the lectures. Similarly, I had to spend more time on the lectures for the third component as we learned about system control. No, it was not because the lectures suck. I took more time because it was a new concept. The lectures were still concise and packed with valuable information.

Lab Sessions:

The lab sessions tested on concepts taught in lectures and some additional content. I felt that the weekly 3-hours lab sessions were mostly relaxed and manageable. The instructions given were clear and easy to follow. If we faced any problems, we could easily alert the TAs or Profs for assistance. Due to the developing COVID situations, the second half of the module became an e-learning module. Our lab sessions were modified, and we had to do the experiments within our teams at other locations. We first collected the apparatus several days before the lab session. Then on the day of the lab session, teams will meet up at any location in school to perform the experiments. My team always met up at the engineering block so we could easily look for the Profs or TAs in the lab for assistance.


For almost all lab sessions, the experiments can be completed within 1 hour 30 minutes. Needless to say. I super stoked. However, there was one dreadful lab session that took my team 6 hours to complete. The lab session was a combination of two sessions and one of the experiments was confusing. It was difficult to follow the instructions given. Furthermore, my team spent a lot of time figuring out how to connect the components correctly.


Proceeds to furiously delete my team's abysmal experiment results. (Source: physmemes)


Every team will submit a lab report after every session and the lab manual has questions for us to answer. To score full marks for the lab reports, follow the instruments, and answer the questions in the manual.



Project:

Remember learning about Arduino in EG1311 and week 6? For the BN project, we were required to use the Arduino software to code a heartbeat monitor. If that does not sound bad enough, we must also build a working prototype. Having to code and design a prototype did scare me as I did not have a good experience with EG1311.


STONKS. (Source)


The prototype is marked based on its functionality and quality. Functionality refers to features in the prototype and whether the features work well. Meanwhile, quality is accessed by the prototype’s durability and user experience. By the end of week 12/13, every group must have a corporate video ready and present their prototype to Prof James.


Thankfully, pre-written codes are given to us during one of the lab sessions. Yet, the codes are not perfect as it is missing components, and we had to source for similar projects online. It was a huge headache figuring out mistakes in the code and there was a lot of trial and error involved.


Thanks a lot computer! (Source)


Another problem my team faced was the terrible jumper wires the school gave. Most of the wires had a bad connection and cause the LED screen not to light up. There were numerous times my group had mistakenly thought that the code was wrong but it was due to the poor connection. I would suggest checking the jumper wires given and exchange faulty wires at the BN lab. The school provided the basic materials required such as a LED screen and sensor. However, my team felt that the sensor did not give accurate readings. We visited shops such as SGrobotics to get components. One can visit Sim Lim square to get components too! There is no reimbursement for the BN project, so all costs were borne by my team. Do note that additional components not given by the school will not be factored into grading.


In weeks 12 and 13, it was time for each group to be judged. Due to the COVID situation, the presentation became a recorded prototype demonstration. The demonstration should be shot in one take as it is meant for Prof James to see that the prototype works. The email was sent on April 5th, just two days before the circuit breaker started. My team panicked if we had sufficient time and about meeting face to face. Ultimately, we managed to finish filming the corporate video and prototype demonstration on April 6th. I did not hold high hopes for my team’s prototype as I felt that I could have done a better job at designing it. However, we got A for our prototype and I so relieved!!


Quizzes:

@Me. (Source: Starecat)


While BN21111 had no finals, there were two quizzes. The first quiz was in week 5 and it was done online. It was meant to be taken in the lecture theatre, but it became a graded homework due to the COVID situation. This meant that the quiz was open book! The content tested was on biomedical signal processing and Matlab functions. The homework felt easy as the questions were straight forward, and answers could be found online. The second quiz took place on week 13 and all the content taught within week 6 to 12 were tested. This quiz was harder as the content was more difficult and the questions were trickier. I revised for both quizzes by revising all lecture notes, lab reports, and re-watching all webcasts. It may sound like a lot of effort, but I was able to finish revising everything in a day.



Conclusion:

All in all, BN2111 starts easy. Yet, the difficulty increases exponentially over the next few weeks. Despite the rise in difficulty, this module is manageable if you stay on track with lectures. I would also suggest taking down notes while videos are played in lectures. If my team of just three people can get A for the project, you have no excuses not to get A too!

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