What Is Biomedical Engineering?

Biomedical engineering (BME) focuses on the advances that improve human health and health care at all levels and is the application of the principles and problem-solving techniques of engineering to biology and medicine. This is evident throughout healthcare, from diagnosis and analysis to treatment and recovery, and has entered the public conscience though the proliferation of implantable medical devices, such as pacemakers and artificial hips, to more futuristic technologies such as stem cell engineering and the 3-D printing of biological organs.

Engineering itself is an innovative field, the origin of ideas leading to everything from automobiles to aerospace, skyscrapers to sonar. Biomedical engineering focuses on the advances that improve human health and health care at all levels.

How is Biomedical Engineering Different?

Biomedical engineers differ from other engineering disciplines that have an influence on human health in that biomedical engineers use and apply an intimate knowledge of modern biological principles in their engineering design process. Aspects of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science and engineering are all integrated with human biology in biomedical engineering to improve human health, whether it be an advanced prosthetic limb or a breakthrough in identifying proteins within cells.

Biomedical Engineering Subdisciplines

There are many subdisciplines within biomedical engineering, including the design and development of active and passive medical devices, orthopedic implants, medical imaging, biomedical signal processing, tissue and stem cell engineering, and clinical engineering, just to name a few. Request information to become a biomedical engineer today.

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Biomedical Pill
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What do Biomedical Engineers do?

Biomedical engineers work in a wide variety of settings and disciplines. There are opportunities in industry for innovating, designing, and developing new technologies; in academia furthering research and pushing the frontiers of what is medically possible as well as testing, implementing, and developing new diagnostic tools and medical equipment; and in government for establishing safety standards for medical devices. Many biomedical engineers find employment in cutting-edge start-up companies or as entrepreneurs themselves.

Tissue and stem cell engineers are working towards artificial recreation of human organs, aiding in transplants and helping millions around the world live better lives. Experts in medical devices develop new implantable and external devices such as pacemakers, coronary stents, orthopaedic implants, prosthetics, dental products, and ambulatory devices. Clinical engineers work to ensure that medical equipment is safe and reliable for use in clinical settings. Biomedical engineering is an extremely broad field with many opportunities for specialization.

What Careers are there in Biomedical Engineering?

In the last few years, both Forbes and CNN Money have dubbed biomedical engineering as the best health care career out there. And the possibilities within biomedical engineering are nearly endless. New innovations in technology, materials, and knowledge mean that tomorrow's breakthroughs can barely be conceived of today. After all, a generation ago, biomedical engineering, as a field, did not exist.

Biomedical Engineering Career Paths

Career paths in biomedical engineering tend to be driven by the interests of the individual: the huge breadth of the field allows biomedical engineers to develop specialties in an area that interests them, be it biomaterials, neuromodulation devices, orthopaedic repair, or even stem cell engineering. Biomedical engineers often combine an aptitude for problem solving and technical know-how with focused study in medicine, healthcare, and helping others. It is this hybridization that has led to so much innovation—and so much opportunity—in biomedical engineering.

Biomedical Engineering Job Titles

Biomedical engineers work in various fields, and their job titles can vary based on their specific role or specialization. Some common job titles for biomedical engineers include:

  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Clinical Engineer
  • Biomaterials Engineer
  • Medical Device Engineer
  • Tissue Engineer
  • Rehabilitation Engineer
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist
  • Research Scientist (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Bioinformatics Engineer
  • Imaging Engineer
  • Biomechanics Engineer
  • Biomedical Equipment Technician
  • Quality Assurance Engineer (Biomedical)
  • Product Development Engineer (Biomedical)
  • Systems Engineer (Biomedical Applications)

How Much do Biomedical Engineers Earn?

Like careers in many other engineering fields, biomedical engineers are well paid. Compared to other fields, they earn well above average throughout each stage of their careers. A typical first job as a biomedical engineer nets a salary around $66,917, with many earning significantly more. More advanced careers are comfortably in six figures.

Biomedical Engineering Salaries
Mean Entry-Level Salary (Payscale) Mean Annual Salary (BLS) Top 10 Percent (BLS)
$66,917 $106,700 $154,350

Figures from payscale.com, accessed May 2024.

Figures from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dated May 2023.

See additional engineering salary information.

The Future of Biomedical Engineering

Economically speaking, medical diagnostics triple in market value each year. Revolutionary advances in medical imaging and medical diagnostics are changing the way medicine is practiced. New medical devices, arising in the research laboratories of biomedical engineers around the world, have completely altered the manner by which disease and trauma is dealt with by physicians, extending the quality and length of human life.

Ultimately, the future of biomedical engineering (BME) is tied to both the issues and obstacles we discover and advances and achievements in fields like chemistry, materials science, and biology. Just as in most other fields, interdisciplinarity means that innovation originates from many directions at the same time.

Our Biomedical Engineering Degrees

The bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech offers undergraduate students many unique, hands-on learning opportunities:

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities are plentiful. On average, six students work alongside each faculty member, researching biomaterials and tissue engineering; biomechanics; or instrumentation/physiological measurements.

Real-World Experience

Get ready to contribute on the job from day one. Our students benefit from hands-on experiences ranging from to Senior Design to internships/co-ops. Gain real-world experience in the medical device industry, a medical research lab, or a hospital.

Enhance Your Degree with an Emphasis Area

Enhance your degree with an emphasis in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, or biotechnology by taking elective courses in these areas.

Prepare for Graduate Study

Our undergraduate program in biomedical engineering (BME) prepares you for advanced study in the field. Earn your MS or PhD degrees in biomedical engineering or a related field either at Michigan Tech or at another university.

Prepare for Medical School

The curriculum offers excellent preparation for medical school, other health professional programs, and graduate school. Michigan Tech's Director of Pre-Health Professions will help you along the way. Approximately 30 percent of our graduates enroll in a graduate degree program, half of which go on to earn an advanced medical, dental, or veterinary degree.

Early-Admission Opportunities

The University's Early Assurance Program provides early admission to medical school for qualified students, especially those wishing to practice in underserved areas; program partners include Michigan State University College of Human Health, and Wayne State University School of Medicine.