What does a biomedical engineer actually do? How engineering and Biology, two seemingly different fields, combine together? Bioengineering/biomedical engineering is the utilization of engineering principles within the context of medicine and biology. Biomedical engineers design equipment and devices, such as artificial internal organs, replacements for body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems, install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment, evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment. While it may be tough to see yourself doing these things right out of high school, believe me when I say you will be given the tools and experiences to contribute to the development of ideas along these lines once you have put in the time in BME. Students who have an interest in medicine tend to choose Biomedical and Bioengineering as opposed to the other concentrations.
As a BME major, you should have taken as much science and math, preferably at the highest level your school offers, as possible so that you will be prepared to step right into the major and be successful. As an undergraduate in the major, you are required to take introductory physics, chemistry, and organic chemistry as well as the associated labs. You are also required to take mathematics courses up through and including differential equations in addition to probability and statistics. This is not to say that your introduction to mathematics ends there. You will learn to love Fourier and Laplace Transforms as they are necessary to most of your core BME classes. They are the main tools engineers use to manipulate data and to design complicated feedback mechanisms.
Here are our Top 10 Biomedical and Bioengineering schools:
- Johns Hopkins University
An undergraduate program in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins stands out for its access to equipment in the Johns Hopkins Medical School. At Johns Hopkins, students have access to some of the most esteemed engineering and clinical faculty. To achieve a Bachelor of Science 129 credits are required to be completed. Students take 3-35 credits in each of the following areas: basic sciences, mathematics, humanities and social sciences, biomedical core knowledge, design, computer programming, general electives, and a student’s chosen focus area.
Harvard’s undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering is one of the top programs. With an emphasis on the chemical and biological basis, students learn about living systems from subcellular to whole organism level. The program emphasizes the importance of engineering design process. This process is a critical aspect of engineering that requires students to synthesize data and information to create a working system that contributes to the field.
The undergraduate program at Duke strongly encourages all students to participate in research and get hands-on experience in the field to create their own conclusions early on. Duke’s elective course sequences within the Biomedical Engineering program are a unique offering–you can become an expert in biomedical imaging and instrumentation, biomechanics, electrobiology, or bimolecular and tissue engineering.
MIT is an academically rigorous, research-focused institution. A central goal of the “BE” program is to “define, establish, and lead the emerging discipline” by encouraging its students to use their resources to create deliverable methods that have a widespread impact on the field. To achieve Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering at MIT, one must take 17 units that qualify as General Institute Requirement courses and 180-183 units within your major.
- Georgia Institute of Technology
While other programs emphasize the connection of Biomedical Engineering to the sciences, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering has a strong emphasis on research. The program spans a great deal of content and teaches its students to think in an interdisciplinary way about the field of biomedical engineering.
The Bioengineering program at UCSD has a strong emphasis on technological innovation and the importance of mentorship in the field. Program outcomes reach beyond the ability to apply your knowledge to solve problems and extend to the importance of understanding contemporary issues, and professional and ethical responsibility. All students, regardless of whether they choose the biotechnology-focused program or the standard bioengineering program are required to complete a Technical Elective consisting of 8 units.
The undergraduate program at Stanford requires an intense passion for problem-solving. Stanford offers students the option to pursue a co-terminal degree, which allows students to work towards their Masters while completing their Bachelor’s degree. Students must complete 180 units for the bachelor’s degree plus 45 unduplicated units for the master’s degree.
- UC Berkeley
The Bioengineering department at the University of California, Berkeley, is a competitive program that emphasizes a strong foundation in engineering and the biological sciences. It offers opportunities for student exposure to the complexities and diversity of the subjects within bioengineering. UC Berkeley offers a unique course for seniors called Capstone Design Course, where students collaborate with physicians at UCSF, Stanford, and UC Davis modeling as “clients” to create medical device solutions over the course of 15 weeks.
- University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
The biomedical engineering undergraduate program at the University of Michigan has a strong partnership with the medical center. The practical uses of the degree are emphasized by promoting interactions between physicians and BME students during their undergraduate studies. The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (ABET).
- University of Pennsylvania
The bioengineering program at the University of Pennsylvania offers two different degrees: Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) for Bioengineering OR a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) for Biomedical Science. The BSE option is a more traditional engineering degree for students who are interested in going into professional engineering, whereas the BAS option is less rigid and gives students more options to pursue dual degrees. Students who pursue the BAS more often go into the fields of medicine, business, and law. This offering, combined with notoriously small classes, make for a nurturing, smaller program and is great for students who want that type of environment.
Bioengineering and biomedical engineering lead to many different careers. It is one of the most demanding fields and at the same time one of the most highly rewarding too. If you have a passion for numbers and life sciences, have an engineer’s mind and love to solve problems, biomedical engineering is the right career for you.
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