Software for Bioengineering Labs and Design Projects

Project Title: Software for Bioengineering Labs and Design Projects

Long Title (if desired): Musculoskeletal Modeling/Simulation Software for Bioengineering Labs and Design Projects

Project Lead's Name: Jessica Sparks

Project Lead's Email:

Project Lead's Phone: 513-529-0764

Project Lead's Division: CEC

Primary Department: Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering

List Departments Benefiting or Affected by this proposal: Chemical, Paper and Biomedical Engineering

Estimated Number of Under-Graduate  students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 70

Estimated Number of Graduate students affected per year (should be number who will actually use solution, not just who is it available to): 2

Describe the problem you are attempting to solve and your approach for solving that problem: The purpose of this proposal is to obtain perpetual software licenses for state-of-the-art musculoskeletal modeling and simulation software (AnyBody Modeling System), in order to enhance the computational modeling and simulation skills of undergraduate students in the Chemical, Paper, and Biomedical Engineering (CPB) department. The software will be used for in-class laboratory exercises in two CPB courses (CPB 219: Statics and Mechanics of Materials; CPB 423: Biomechanics), and for model-driven engineering design projects in our capstone senior design courses (CPB 471/472: Engineering Design I and II). The software will also be used for independent study and directed research projects by undergraduate and graduate students.

There is an increasing demand for graduate engineers with experience in three-dimensional modeling and the ability to simulate complex systems using computational tools. For example, Bioengineering undergraduate majors who wish to work in medical device design or product development would benefit greatly from possessing such modeling and computational skills. Students have reported, after completing engineering internship or co-op experiences, that those without prior experience with modeling and/or simulation are at a disadvantage relative to their peers. At the present time, CPB Bioengineering students have limited options to acquire in-depth experience in 3D modeling and simulation. The laboratory exercises and engineering design projects made possible through this software purchase are expected to remedy this deficiency.

In a musculoskeletal simulation, the geometry of the skeleton is represented in three dimensions, and individual muscles are represented as lines of action connecting the origin and insertion points for each muscle. The simulated muscles are capable of contracting and generating tension. Muscle-generated forces act across the joints in the model to produce simulated movements. In a typical musculoskeletal model analysis, if the positions of body segments are measured over time for a given motion, and if ground reaction forces are known, it is possible to calculate a set of muscle forces and joint torques which produce that motion. Simulations can also be run in the reverse direction, where the user inputs muscle activations and the simulation predicts the movement that would result from that muscle activation pattern.

Musculoskeletal models have advanced our understanding of normal and pathological movement. They are used in surgical planning for simulation of tendon transfers and other surgical techniques. They are used to design assistive devices such as prosthetics and orthotics to restore function. They can interface with other modeling platforms, such as finite element analysis software, for virtual prototyping and simulation-driven product development. They are increasingly employed in the ergonomic assessment of products early in the product design cycle, to understand and improve how a given product performs in concert with the human body. In short, the applications of musculoskeletal modeling skills are broad and extend across multiple industries. Possessing such skills is expected to strengthen the competitiveness of our CPB graduates as they search for employment opportunities in industry.

If this proposal is funded, it will enable the purchase of 20 student licenses and one faculty license for AnyBody Modeling System software. The faculty license is included because without it students would be prohibited from publishing any of their results generated with the software. The CPB Department strongly encourages undergraduate students as well as graduate students to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals whenever possible, and it is anticipated that the results of future capstone design projects and undergraduate independent study projects could be worthy of publication. It benefits students greatly to have a peer-reviewed publication on their resume. Therefore the faculty license is included In this proposal request in order to make the publication of undergraduate student work possible. The licenses to be purchased are perpetual floating/network licenses, so the software can continue to be used indefinitely.

In conclusion, the proposed AnyBody Modeling System musculoskeletal modeling software will:

  1. Link the engineering fundamentals students learn in CPB 219 (Statics and Mechanics of Materials) and CPB 423 (Biomechanics) with clinically meaningful applications that have great relevance to healthcare and the biomedical device industry
  2. Provide an ideal platform for simulation-driven design projects for student teams in capstone senior design courses (CPB 471/472: Engineering Design I and 11)
  3. Give CPB students hands-on experience with state-of-the-art modeling and simulation software with broad applications across multiple industries.

How would you describe the innovation and/or the significance of your project:


  • This project will provide students with in-depth modeling and simulation skills that are in great demand in the engineering profession.
  • Having access to the AnyBody Modeling System musculoskeletal modeling software will create new opportunities for students to design and test assistive devices using computational methods, thus minimizing the experimental time and cost associated with device development.
  • The in-class laboratory exercises and engineering design projects that will be conducted with this software can be linked directly to applications that are oriented toward improving the quality of life for others. An example of this is described below.

The course activities using the AnyBody Modeling System software will all be organized around a common theme. The initial theme will be designing prosthetic limbs. To avoid liability concerns associated with designing prosthetics for human use, we will instead focus on designing prosthetic limbs for dogs, working in collaboration with a local animal rescue group and a local veterinarian (both of whom have already been identified and are existing collaborators with the PI of this proposal. Creating innovative and inexpensive prosthetic designs for dogs will meet an important need in itself since there are significant negative long-term consequences to dogs from ambulating on three limbs. It is important to note, however, that the engineering design principles students learn from this topic could be transferred ultimately to the design of prosthetic devices for humans, and more broadly to designing a variety of assistive devices. Any proposed animal studies associated with this project, such as non­ invasive measurements of normal canine gait parameters through video motion capture technology, would be subject to review and approval by Miami University's Animal Care and Use Committee. It should be noted that while most commercially available musculoskeletal modeling software is limited to simulating human movement, the AnyBody Modeling System software is fully capable of simulating the movement of dogs or other animals as well as humans.

The course activities using the AnyBody Modeling System software will increase in complexity as the student progresses through the course series. For example, in the sophomore-level course CPB 219 (Statics and Mechanics of Materials), students can learn to segment a three-dimensional medical image data set, such as a CT scan, to obtain a 3D model of skeletal geometry for importing into the AnyBody Modeling System. They can also learn to use the AnyBody Modeling System software to perform simple analyses of muscle forces for different static body positions, and to calculate the percent of body weight supported by each limb. In the upper-level course CPB 423 (Biomechanics), students can use the AnyBody Modeling System software to conduct more advanced analyses of gait dynamics, for instance by comparing the muscle forces and energy costs of prosthetic-aided ambulation versus normal gait. Lastly, in CPB 471/472 (Engineering Design I and II), students who choose this project as their capstone senior design topic can use the AnyBody Modeling System software to conduct 11 virtual trials of different prosthetic designs to identify strengths and weaknesses of different design ideas.

In summary, this project will create a platform for student innovation in prosthetic design while enhancing their computational skills and providing a new avenue for them to have a positive impact on the community.

How will you assess the success of the project: This project will be considered successful if:

  1. In the first year, one required undergraduate course uses the AnyBody Modeling System software for an in-class laboratory exercise to enhance student learning of musculoskeletal biomechanics (CPB 219: Statics and Mechanics of Materials is proposed).
  2. In years two and three, one upper level required undergraduate course uses the AnyBody Modeling System software for an in-class laboratory exercise to enhance student learning (CPB 423: Biomechanics is proposed); and at least one senior design team in CPB 471/472 uses the software to design and/or evaluate an assistive device.

To measure the impact on student learning, the pre-test/post-test method will be used to assess student knowledge of targeted learning outcomes before and after using the software for the in­ class exercises in CPB 219 and CPB 423. ln addition, anonymous qualitative feedback on the software will be collected from students through instructor-generated questions added to end-of-semester course evaluations. For CPB 471/472, students will prepare detailed midterm and final reports on their device designs and will present a poster on their project at the annual College of Engineering and Computing Senior Design Expo. In addition to student grades on these assignments as a measure of project success, we will also collect anonymous student feedback on the use of the software in senior design using an online survey tool.

Financial Information

Total Amount Requested: $19,400

Is this a multi-year request: No

Please address how, if at all, this project aligns with University,  Divisional, Departmental or Center strategic goals: This project has no perceived Impacts on any of Miami's BCSAE, 2020, or divisional plans, beyond a general enhancement of undergraduate education of CPB students.