Michigan Tech News

New Biomedical Engineering Curriculum Responds to Industry's Needs

Last Modified 10:56 AM on Sat Apr 29, 2017

By Jennifer Donovan

September 11, 2012—

Biomedical engineers need to know engineering inside out. How knowledgeable do they need to be about biological sciences?  They need to know at least as much about that fast-moving field too. The biomedical device and biotech industries are evolving so rapidly that it takes the latest engineering skills and a thorough understanding of cutting-edge cell and molecular biology and genetics to meet the demands of biomedical engineering.

That’s what industry leaders told Sean Kirkpatrick when Michigan Technological University’s chair of biomedical engineering talked with them about how Michigan Tech could better meet their needs. And Kirkpatrick listened.

Now he’s rolling out a new biomedical engineering curriculum designed to produce the specialists that the industry needs.

“Biomedical engineers are not generalists,” Kirkpatrick explains. They are rigorously trained engineers who also understand the explosion of new knowledge in the biological sciences and its implications for engineering health-related devices and materials. “

Starting with this year’s entering class, Michigan Tech’s biomedical engineering students will take most of their engineering courses within their own department, where the faculty can make the connections between engineering principles and their applications to human biology. They will also take cellular and molecular biology within the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“The new curriculum offers students a much tighter integration of modern biology and engineering,” says Kirkpatrick.  “We now realize how important it is to carefully integrate cellular and molecular biology into the teaching of engineering each step of the way. When our students graduate, they will be prepared to enter the medical device industry and hit the ground running.”

Heather Getty, director of R&D Engineering Services Group at Boston Scientific, a leading medical device manufacturer, agrees.

 “As the medical device industry matures, there is a continuous need to better understand device performance, says Getty, a member of Michigan Tech’s Biomedical Engineering Professional Advisory Board.  “Biomedical engineers with training in engineering, biology and biological mechanics help contribute to our ability to design better devices and better meet our customer’s needs.

Job prospects are rosy for biomedical engineers.  According to Payscale.com, biomedical engineering is the most valuable major in the marketplace. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 61.7 percent growth of job opportunities in the field.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.