Biomedical Engineers focus on applying engineering knowledge and techniques to solve biological and medical problems. They do this by designing and building new devices, instruments and techniques to treat people suffering from injuries or diseases. They have created such devices as pacemakers, artificial skin, artificial organs, and automated insulin injectors. The also design and adapt computer software for medical uses such as laser systems for eye surgery and computer-based systems for diagnosing diseases. They often work in a lab setting. Biomedical engineers provide a vital link between advancing technology and health care treatment. They often work with a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, nurses, occupational therapists and medical specialists where they may be involved in clinical trials or demonstrating medical devices and equipment.
Students who wish to become biomedical engineers must have strong quantitative abilities and a desire to master two different areas: engineering and biology. Students should have a diverse background in biology, chemistry, math and physics. They should be analytical thinkers and have good problem solving skills. Often working in a collaborative environment, communication skills are important. Biomedical engineers must commit to lifelong learning since the field is rapidly evolving.
Several career paths are available to biomedical engineers. Those interested in work in industry will often pursue a Master's degree in addition to a B. S. in biomedical engineering or related engineering discipline, such as chemical or electrical engineering. Students interested in advanced research in industry or academic settings will pursue a doctorate degree. Students interested in clinical applications and treating patients may pursue combined degrees, such as the M.D./Ph.D.
Biomedical engineering is presently one of the most rapidly expanding engineering specialties. Common employment options include work for medical device companies or for research laboratories. Specialties in the area include biomaterials, medical imaging, bioinstrumentation, biomechanics, clinical engineering, cellular, tissue and genetic engineering etc. Due to the increasing aging population, there is a growing demand for biomedical engineers to develop new devices and software to meet their health care needs.
What The University Offers
The University of Minnesota offers both an undergraduate and graduate program in biomedical engineering, based out of the College of Science and Engineering.