I am currently a Computer Engineering major. I am interested in going to graduate school, but I am not particularly turned on to the idea of going to strictly Electrical Engineering and most definately not Computer Science. I was really interested in going for Biomedical Engineering. The problem I am worried about is that I have only had 2 semesters of basic chemistry in college. I have had no biology. Can anyone give me any information on this? What is it like to be a Biomedical Engineer? Everything I have seen on the web seems to have been taken from the same source and it doesn’t really elaborate. Thanks.
All I know is the dept. at work that fixes all the machines and appliances that go wrong are called ‘biomedical engineers’. What you’re talking about sounds like something else.
I mgiht be qualified to answer this, what with my BS in Biomedical Engineering.
You must work in a hospital, then, yes? Or some other healthcare enviroment perhaps? Those people are more like biomedical technicians. They can dagnose, fix, test, etc… biomedical devices, but they aren’t really engineers. I’m actualyl currently emplyed as jsut a technician, but that’s because ther job market is crap, I didn’t have the best grades, and nothing on my resum, so had to take what I could get.
Anyways, to the OP’s qusetions.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is *why[/]i you’re interested in biomedical engineering. What about it interests you? I’m not doubting you’re interst, but the biomedical field is si large and diverse, that if you don’t know exactly what you want to do (especially for graduate school) then you can get lost and frustrated doing research in an area you don’t like. To give an example, my school had three (now only two) biomedical undergrad concentrations. Electrical, mechanical, and materials. I choose mechanical (though I switched from being a EE major, so everyone thought I would choose electrical, but i wanted to get as FAR away from that stuff as possible!) It sounds like electrical might be a good concentration or area for you, assuming you like your undergraduate studies.
As to your courses taken. When I switched majors, I was in the second semester of my junior year. I had one chenmistry course up till then (completly inorganic chemistry at that,) and no biology. I took a second chem course (again, not organic, more of a materials science coruse,) and two physiology courses, but no straight biology. Depending on the school/program you go into, this amy or may not be a problem. I know that at my alma mater (RPI) if you were enroleld in the biomedical graduate program but didn’t have sufficient physiology courses, you were stuck in the undergrad physiology courses (there were no grad phys. courses.) I also know that some school Do have grad phys. courses. Some make it mandatory for all grad biomed majors to take them, some might only make you take them if you’ve had none in the past, and others might make it completly optional (though in your case, you really do need at least one, preferably two, semesters of phys. at some point)
As to what it’s like? Well, I’ll give some examples of what some of my profs were doing as research projects:
A sensor to mount in someone’s mouth to determine if an oral implant is still in place
Seeing the effects of strong magnetic fields on osteoblasts (bone cells)
Examining the effects of laminar and turbulent flow on epithelial cells
Using electrical resistance imaging to detect breast cancer
Examing the effects of various exercise treatments on osteoperosis
Making a heart tissue construct with the aid of carbon nanotubes
Researching new technologies and techniques for arterial stents and angioplasty
As you can see, ther is a huge variety in what can be done. Everything from bioelectrical, biomechainical, materials, imaging, sensing, etc… A good way to determine what field of study to go into is, as I said above, think about what you really want to do. Do you want to incorperate yuor computer engineering degree a lot? In that case, something along the lines of the impedance imaging for breast cancer screening would be good, yuo make use of electrical knowledge, and even some programming (I know the CEs at my school had to take several programming classes as well.) Maybe you want something only slightly related to your field, well, then maybe soemthing like the magnetic field research. You get to use all those nifty electro-meagnetic equations and get to do something new and exciting.
If you have any more questions, just let me know, I’ll be glad to answer them.
Thank you for replying. One of the main things that interests me about Biomedical Engineering is that I really enjoy helping people. I have always kind of wanted to go into the medical profession, but honestly, the thought of cutting people open and dealing with things such as bodily fluids really turns me off. I also had always enjoyed using computers. When I was choosing an undergraduate major this (computer engineering) seemed like the best thing for me at the time. Well, now I am realizing that maybe I would have enjoyed doing something regarding medicine and being able to more directly help people. I figured that biomedical engineering would be a nice way to combine my future (in a year) computer engineering degree and my interest in the medical profession.
Something else I am concerned with, would I be better off finishing my computer engineering degree and attempting to go to grad school for biomedical engineering, or would I be better off after getting my degree transferring to another university that offers a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering? My current university does not offer either kind of degree in biomedical engineering.
Do you know what the typical job market outlook is for someone with a biomedical BS or MS? How competitive are the grad schools? On a typical day, how would you say a biomedical engineer would work (i.e., would he be in a hospital most of the time, or in a lab doing research, or in an office?)
Again, thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.
Ever see Resident Evil?
You say you have a year left? Well, if you transferred to a new school, I’m guessing you couldn’t start until the spring semester of 2006, and odds are you would need at least thast seemster and the fall one, though more likely that one, the afll, and the next spring semester to graduate. So if you don’t mind the hassle and spening another year in college, you can go ahead and transfer. Since you are a computer engineering undergrad, try to find a school that does allow for some kind of electrican-type concentration, as your previous courses can probably count for the concentration course credit.
As far as grad school goes, I really am unsure of how competative they might be. I didn’t apply (though I am thinking of applying this fall,) but I had a couple friends in the prgoram with me who did, but they were both very good in school and could have gotten into almost any grad program, so again, I don’t have any info for you there. But one thing to keep in mind about grad school, especially engineering grad school, is that it is a lot of work. Countless hours in a lab doing experiements, plus your regualr course load, and almost certainly a class or two that you have to TA. If you do choose to go the grad school route, it might not hurt to take a bio or anatomy/physiology course next year if you can. So that awy, when you apply, you ahcve a little more going for you than just “I want to help people” (Not that that’s a bad reason. It’s actualyl a perfectly valid reason, but by taking a course or two related to the field you prove you have that interest.)
A typical biomedical engineers dayi s hard to describe. But suffice to say, and entry-level engineer will probably do a lot of running of the experiments, collecting and analyzing the data, and possibly putting it all together in a report. (So that’s mostly lab work, but with some office work in there too.) If you’re lucky, you might even get to design some of the experiments. Oooh, I just remembered a good reason to go to grad school. When I was looking for jobs, most of the places wanted either 2-5 years experience with a BS, OR just the MS. The chief reason being that biomed is a broad field, so just having a BS isn’t all that great, so by either having some expereince or an MS, you will have more knowledge in that area of biomed. If you want to look at the current job market, Here’s a careerbuilder.com search on biomedical engineer.
You can also try Monster.com, but make to to search in all job fields, since biomed jobs can be easily listed as being in engineering, bioetch, and healthcare industries.
And I would like to thank you for looking into the field. It might be the fastest growing engineering field, what with all the current advancements and media attention. One of the things I like about it, as you said, is that it’s about helping people. Almost everything a biomedical engineer does is about helping people, be it designing a new pacemaker, researcing protein interactions with a new biomaterial, or making a better wheelchair. You never have to worry that the only job you get will be designing better missles…in thoery, anyways.
Thanks for all of the information. I am defiantely looking into it.
I got my undergrad degree in biomedical engineering and now work as a development engineer for a medical device company. When I graduated a couple years ago, BME was still a pretty new field and it caused some difficulties in finding a job. A lot of medical companies told me that they’d prefer to hire a “regular” engineer (electrical, mechanical, chemical, etc.) and have them “just pick up the biology along the way.” Until I get a bit more experience under my belt, I’m pretty much limited to jobs in the medical sector. Though that’s not a huge problem as I live in the Twin Cities, which has tons of medical device companies.
My area of emphasis was biomaterials, and I picked up a second major of biochemsitry along the way. To be honest, a lot of my chemistry/physiology/biochem knowledge is going to waste right now, because I never use it. I’ve considered going to grad school as a mechanical engineer, because I feel I really need to bone up on the engineering side of things.
The best thing I can recommend for you to do is grab a copy of US News and World Report’s guide to grad programs. You’ll be able to find the top 20 programs in biomedical engineering. Then cruise over to those programs’s websites and see what their admissions requirements are for BME grad students. Also, be aware that some BME programs are stronger in certain subspecialties than others. For instance, at my alma mater (Wisconsin), a couple professors from the electrical engineering department were instrumental in getting the program developed, so it is strong in bioinstrumentation.
What do I do? I’m in technology development, which means I’m working on the early development of new products. It’s my job to get the prototypes in decent enough shape to be handed off to the product development team, who gets to worry about things like how to make thousands of them cheaply and efficiently. I also write up a lot of invention disclosures. I’ve only been doing this for about 4 months–prior to that I was in product development. In a slight contradiction of what I said earlier, I do get to use my medical knowledge a bit more than I did in my previous position, because I need to know about the specific disease and typical procedure used to diagnose/treat it in order to develop effective devices.