Engineering in Medical Imaging 1: Non-Ionizing Techniques

  • Date: Aug. 22, 2022 - Oct. 16, 2022
  • Format: online
  • Days to complete Days to complete: 56
This is the first course in a 2-semester investigation into the engineering of medical imaging modalities. These courses will provide the student with a functional understanding of some of the most common applications of engineering in medical imaging. This will include discussions of the underlying physics, device operation, image formation, and clinical applications of medical images. This course is part of a Certificate Program series: Course 1: Engineering in Medical Imaging 1: Non-Ionizing Techniques Course 2: Engineering in Medical Imaging 2: Ionizing Techniques Course 3: Medical Image Data Collection & Management Course 4: Applications for Clinical Engineering

Course Description

This is the first course in a 2-semester investigation into the engineering of medical imaging modalities. These courses will provide the student with a functional understanding of some of the most common applications of engineering in medical imaging. This will include discussions of the underlying physics, device operation, image formation, and clinical applications of medical images including in-depth discussions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound (US), and optical imaging. We will also examine the important topics of image resolution, signal-to-noise, radiation dose, image analysis, clinical decision-making in relation to diagnostic imaging, and emerging techniques in machine learning. All of these modalities involve some interaction of matter with waves (electromagnetic waves, sound waves, etc.). To appropriately understand these modalities requires a solid grasp of fundamental concepts taught within undergraduate level physics, mathematics, and engineering courses. This is an upper-level undergraduate/graduate course specifically targeted toward students with interest in careers in biomedical engineering, clinical technology, and medicine. Thus, a large portion of lecture will be dedicated to both theoretical development and applications in research and medicine. Of course, the ultimate goal of this course (and hopefully every course you take in higher education) is to develop the student to be a critical thinker!

Course Organization

Course overview and objectives:



Objectives (You will be able to…)


·   Math Review

·   Calculate cross products, gradients, divergence, curl, and Laplacians

·   Perform arithmetic with complex numbers and plot them on the Argand plane


·   Interactions of Light with Matter

·   Calculate the speed, frequency, and wavelength of waves

·   Calculate electron transition energies

·   Derive light/atomic resonance and Lorentzian line shape parameters


·   Analog and Digital Signals and Images

· Recognize images as discrete 2D functions

· Explain analog/digital conversion and consequences of signal discretization

· Calculate SNR, CNR, and resolution of an image

· Apply Nyquist’s criteria to discrete data


· Data, Noise, and Statistics

· Identify systematic/random noise and accuracy/precision of measurements

· Calculate mean, standard deviation, standard error

· Calculate probabilities from binomial, Poisson, and Gaussian pdfs

· Propagate Error from measured quantities to calculated values

· Identify anomalous noise patterns and mitigation strategies


· Images in Medicine

· Apply common continuous/discrete data significance tests to parameters derived from medical images 

· Calculate sensitivity/specificity

· Calculate ROC’s and Youden’s index

· Explain/Summarize/Describe the field of Radiology and how clinicians are trained to recognize pathology


· Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

· Employ the Larmor and signal equations to calculate T1, T2, and T2*

· Calculate signal from the Spin Echo experiment

· Explain superconductivity and rf coil engineering/design

· Quantify k-space and how gradients are used to localize tissue


· Ultrasound (US)

· Calculate frequencies, amplitudes, and wave speeds of longitudinal waves in tissue

· Calculate signal echoes from sound/tissue interactions

· Calculate fluid flow via doppler imaging


· Optical Imaging

· Calculate reflection/refraction/dispersion

· Calculate focal lengths and magnifications of lens and mirror systems

· Compare different modes of microscopic imaging (bright/dark field, confocal, FLIM, FRAP)

· Explain Laser design/operation, interferometry


By the end of the course, students will be able to…

  • Calculate temporal and spatial frequencies, amplitudes, and phases of waves (EM and sound) and atomic structure
  • Analyze image properties (resolution, signal-to-noise, contrast-to-noise, etc.) relevant in medical imaging.
  • Explain the utility, applications, and validation of image analysis in medicine.
  • Assess random processes, noise patterns, and their influence on images and statistical tests
  • Identify science-based approaches to clinical validation of image data in diagnosing and treating disease.
  • Explain the working principles of medical image production by:
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
    • ultrasound (US),
    • optical imaging
  • Plan for a future career in medical imaging by learning about professions in the field and the professional skills required



Robert Thomen, PhD

Email: [email protected]

Office Hours:

By appointment (Med Sci Building, M210P)


Lectures: The primary informational resource for this course are video lectures. The readings and lectures will be posted in each respective module along with an assignment pertaining to the module material. Lecture slides will be uploaded to Canvas as well for the student to download and follow along, but note that my slides are not ‘notes’ – they are visual aids. Relying on the slides alone without taking notes during the lecture (let alone attending the lecture) will leave many gaps in your understanding of the material.

Readings: There is no required textbook for this course – all reading materials and resources will be provided on Canvas and should be completed by the student prior to viewing the relevant lectures. I have selected the ‘best’ chapters from a number of texts which will, for the most part, comprise each weekly reading assignment. For the interested student, the most common standard text is Bushberg et al.’s Essential Physics of Medical Imaging.

Homework: Each module includes a set of exercises pertaining to the module material which the student must complete by the assigned due date/time. Late homework will not be accepted since solutions will be posted on the due date – once solutions are posted I cannot accept the assignment. Any exceptions must be approved by the instructor before the due date. Collaboration with fellow students on homework is encouraged so long as each student completes his/her own work (i.e., copying someone else’s solution to a problem does not constitute collaboration, and you will not learn the material this way). I recommend independently working through as much of each problem as you can before consulting with others. You’ll learn the material much better this way and perform better on exams! The student is allowed to use any available resources to complete the assignments including textbooks, online resources such as Wikipedia, online integral calculators such as Wolfram Alpha, etc.

Exams: A total of three exams will be given. Percentage of total grade is given in the point allocation chart. Exams will be open book, open note, open calculator, open internet, open anything except other people (classmates, instructors, former students, grandma, anyone!). The instructor will provide a sheet of potentially helpful equations with the exam.


We value the voice of every student in this course. We embrace our diversity as a group—in race, gender, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, religion, language, ability, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic and veteran status, —is an asset, resource and strength that is critical to our learning experience.  As a result, we are committed to designing inclusive lessons and assignments that encourage diverse perspectives to be recognized and respected, while providing you with the opportunity to speak and be heard, explore your own understanding, and engage with one another.

Assessment and Grading

Course Format and Grading: Course lectures will be presented as asynchronous video lectures organized in weekly-ish modules. Each module will comprise a set of objectives, assigned readings/videos, video lectures, and a homework assignment. Course grade will be determined by number of points earned throughout the semester based on a combination of homework and exams:


Percentage of Available Points



Percent of Final Grade





Homework (8 assignments) – 40%





Exam 1 – 15%





Exam 2 – 15%





Final Exam – 30%








If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need to make arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please let me know as soon as possible. If disability related accommodations are necessary (for example, a note taker, extended time on exams, captioning), please contact MU Extension ADA Support as soon as possible so we can provide you with appropriate accommodations.  

Technical Requirements

This course uses the Canvas Learning Management System.  In addition to Canvas, you will use external tools, such as links to research articles on their journal websites, YouTube videos, and document preparation/processing tools, such as the Microsoft Office suite or similar tools.  The minimum technology requirements for this course can be found here. In addition to these, this course also requires access to a working video/web camera and microphone for several of the activities. 

Students will be expected to be familiar with typical document preparation/processing software, such as the Microsoft Office Suite (or similar tools from other companies).  

Students will be expected to be able to use basic internet searches through the search engine of their choice, as well as using resources from the Mizzou Libraries.  

See our Getting Started with Canvas page for short tutorial videos to provide an overview of Canvas.  Download the Canvas Student App to access your Canvas course from your mobile device.

For the best user experience, we recommend using  Google Chrome as your browser (Safari for Macintosh). If you don't have Google Chrome installed on your computer, you can download the latest version.

If you have questions or need additional help, please please email Canvas Support. You can find more information on the technical requirements on the Canvas website.


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Extension resources