A Career in Biomedical Engineering

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What is Biomedical Engineering?

Traditional engineering uses physics, aerodynamics, and other branches of knowledge to create buildings, roads, dams, and monuments. Biomedical engineering shares many things in common with other engineering fields, but with biomedical engineering, the focus is on using engineering knowledge to develop medical instruments and equipment, as well as to develop and refine medical prostheses. Biomedical engineers work in a variety of places, including industrial facilities, hospitals, research laboratories, universities, and government agencies.

A career in biomedical engineering provides many options in terms of specialization, such as work on biomaterials (materials used in the development of prostheses), medical devices such as pacemakers and hearing aids, artificial limbs or organs, medical equipment, and surgical devices. In hospitals, biomedical engineers may oversee the selection and use of medical equipment, the modification of medical equipment to adapt to patient and staff requirements, or the use of smaller pieces of equipment such as artificial limbs or hearing aids.

Research in Biomedical Engineering

Research in biomedical engineering tends to focus not on developing new biomaterials or medical equipment, but simply on expanding the field of knowledge. Research might, for example, focus on using computer software to model the way various organs work in the body, or the study of injury, to determine how various types of injuries affect the body.

The knowledge gained from this type of research can then be applied to the development of medical equipment, prostheses, artificial organs, and other biomechanical products. Other areas of medicine may also benefit. For example, study on the biomechanics of injury may lead to the development of new treatment methods for certain types of injuries, to reduce pain or hasten the speed of recovery.

Biomedical Engineering Product Development

Biomedical product development allows biomedical engineers to apply engineering knowledge to solving medical and biomedical problems and the development of new medical equipment and biomedical products. This branch of biomedical science is a complex one, requiring that the scientist have expert knowledge of biomaterials as well as biological systems.

Biomedical Engineering Training and Education Requirements

A Bachelor’s degree in engineering is considered the minimum qualification for a career in biomedical engineering, with a Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering itself usually preferred, as such degree courses become more widely available.

However, a Bachelor’s degree is itself a minimum requirement, and a graduate degree is usually preferred. This is partly because the subject is both specialist and multidisciplinary, and also because most careers in biomedical engineering require experience in research.

Resources and Further Reading

The Biomedical Engineering Society

Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University

Biomedical Engineers Career Information at the Department of Labor