BENG 226

Foundations of Biomechanics

Spring Quarter, 2016

Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 pm – 3:20 pm, PFBH Room 161 Multimedia Lab
March 29th – June 3rd, 2016


Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine
email: <amcculloch AT ucsd DOT edu>
Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, room 231
Office Hours: By appointment
Tel: (858)534-2547

Graduate Student Instructors

Nick Forsch, Bioengineering graduate student, email: <nforsch AT eng DOT ucsd DOT edu>
Office hours: Mon 2-3:00 pm at PFBH 391

Discussion Section




Graduate Student Instructor


10:00-10:50 am

PFBH 161

Nick Forsch

Course Objectives

The relationship between structure and function in living cells, tissues and organs will be studied using the theories and methods of continuum mechanics. The goal of this class is to introduce the foundations of biosolid and biofluid mechanics and the development of analytical and computational quantitative models of cells, tissues and organs, methods for measurement of mechanical parameters in vivo and in vitro, and the integration of biophysical, computational, and experimental approaches to characterize biomechanical properties. We will use the cardiovascular system as a primary focus of applications.

See course lecture schedule here.

Course Format

Parts of this course will be flipped. For those parts, electronic whiteboard lectures will be posted on YouTube and Zaption. Students will be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the material before the class. To assess understanding and focus class time on the most important topics students will be quizzed on online content during class. i>clickers, available from the UCSD Bookstore, will be required and must be registered on TritonEd. Any i>clicker physical device is allowable, but not i>clicker GO apps, which are not yet supported by UCSD. You may not share a clicker with another student enrolled in this course. i>clickers that you purchased for another class or used i>clickers will work, though the vendor charges a fee to register used i>clickers. The idea of using video streaming of electronic whiteboard lectures and i>clicker surveys is to allow more time in class to identify, explain and discuss those topics that are most conceptually difficult. Biomechanics involves new theoretical and physical concepts that take some time to digest and understand. Discussion and problem solving are more effective use of limited class time. By using i>clicker quiz questions to assess your understanding of key concepts from lectures and completed homeworks we will be able to concentrate time on solving example problems and explaining and discussing those concepts that are least well understood. Points will be assessed for i>clicker quizzes, but they will be awarded only for participation, there will be no differential scoring for correct or incorrect answers.


The homework assignments are an integral part of the course and consist of reviews, selected reading assignments, which serve to supplement the material covered in class, and problems for grading. Selected homework problems include examples that should be solved by means of numerical computations.

Homework assignments will be posted at this website. They must be turned in before the start of lecture on the posted due date.

Late homework submissions, even if excused, may be subject to penalty.

You are welcome to discuss the homework problems with peers but are required to write the final solution to the homework problems without assistance or collaboration. All assistance by either consultation of literature references or by discussions with others needs to be summarized in an Acknowledgement at the end of the homework solution set. The absence of an Acknowledgement is an indication that your homework solution was solved and written without reference to other sources. Acknowledgement of discussion with other students does not release you from your responsibility to submit work untainted by collusion. See the statement below on Integrity of Scholarship.

We will use the UCSD TritonEd system to distribute grades. Use your ACS username and password to access TritonEd.

Preparation/Prerequisite Knowledge

Students should be familiar with the prerequisite concepts from continuum mechanics listed here.

Recommended Textbooks

Suggested Reading

  • YC Fung, Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties Of Living Tissues, 2nd Ed., Springer-Verlag, 1993. This book is used throughout the course

  • YC Fung, Biomechanics: Circulation, 2nd Ed., Springer-Verlag, 1997. This text is used during the sections on microvascular blood flow

  • JD Humphrey and SL Delange, An Introduction to Biomechanics: Solids and Fluids, Analysis and Design, Springer-Verlag, 2004

Other References

  • YC Fung, A First Course in Continuum Mechanics, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall, 1994. This introductory text summarizes fundamental approaches in continuum mechanics. It uses index notation. You may use it to review basic definitions in biomechanics listed here

  • AJM Spencer, Continuum Mechanics, Dover, 2004. This book uses the more modern direct tensor notation in more common use today and used by Dr. McCulloch. It is concise but has very limited examples

  • SC Cowin and SB Doty, Tissue Mechanics, Springer, 2007

  • C Ross Ethier and Craig A Simmons, Introductory Biomechanics: From Cells to Organisms, Cambridge University Press 2007

  • Jonathon Howard, Mechanics of Motor Proteins and the Cytoskeleton (Paperback), Sinauer Associates, 2001

Regular reading of the relevant sections of the recommended textbooks can be a valuable supplement to the lectures. Continuum mechanics textbooks are useful for reference, but all the required material is covered in this course or its prerequisites.


Computer and network will be needed for assignments in this course. All UCSD engineering students are eligible for computer accounts through Academic Computing Services. You can see what kind of account you have on-line using the Account Lookup Tool at It will also show you what class allocations you have for OCE compatible classes in your major. If you do not already have an account with UCSD, you can register for one from the web site. If you do not have one for Engineering, but you are an Engineering major, you can upgrade your current account to an OCE account.

Computing labs are available throughout the campus including room 161 in Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall. For assistance with UCSD instructional computing facilities, do not come to the instructor or TAs as they are not managed by departmental personnel. You can email questions to .


Homework assignments


i>clicker quizzes


Final Examination


Grading Policy

In fairness to all students, work is only regraded when there is evidence of grading error. We reserve the right to regrade an entire piece of work.

Integrity of Scholarship

The Department of Bioengineering adheres to the UCSD Policy on Integrity of Scholarship. This Policy states that “Students are expected to complete the course in compliance with the instructor’s standards. No student shall engage in any activity that involves attempting to receive a grade by means other than honest effort …” Pertinent university policies as well as others regarding exams, grading policies, etc, are given in full in the General Catalogue at: or as well as in the quarterly Schedule of Classes.

Students are not discouraged from discussing homework assignments among themselves or engaging in group study. However, individual homework assignments must be the sole work of the submitting student. Specific guidance will be given in the case of group projects. When submitted coursework incorporates material authored by a third party, the source should always be attributed according to the accepted standards of scholarly endeavor. Material taken from the Internet or other forms of electronic media are subject to the same requirements of attribution applicable to printed reference sources or materials. Work suspected of being tainted by plagiarism will receive no credit. All cases of suspected academic dishonesty including collaboration, plagiarism and cheating as defined by UCSD regulations will be referred to the UCSD Academic Integrity Coordinator.

In cases of suspected academic dishonesty including cheating in an examination or altering graded work and resubmitting it, the student will be handed a copy of the student conduct code, and the case will be referred to the appropriate dean. The academic penalty for serious academic dishonesty will generally be a grade of F.

Department Seminars (BENG 281)

Fridays 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. in the Y-C Fung Auditorium. The schedule of speakers is posted on the Bioengineering Department web pages.