Biomedical engineering is a burgeoning career field that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects will grow by 62 percent between 2010 and 2020. Biomedical engineers contribute to areas including the drug industry, gene therapy and medical technology. Since biomedical engineering combines medicine, science and engineering, a prospective biomedical engineering student should focus on these disciplines.
Foundational Course Requirements
Undergraduate course work usually requires extensive mathematical foundations in statistics and probability and several calculus courses. Students may also take computer science courses. Prospective undergraduate students or students considering a biomedical engineering degree should begin taking courses covering topics like circuits and linear systems, human anatomy and cell biology. Biomedical undergraduates will study biological systems from the molecular to the organ system levels, and they tend to take laboratory course work paralleling lecture courses to develop experimentation, data analysis and measurement techniques.
Advanced Course Requirements
Advanced coursework will depend on a student's specialization, such as cell and tissue engineering, biomechanics or biomedical engineering. These specializations will shape the rest of a biomedical engineering student's education, potentially into graduate work. Accredited biomedical engineering programs will also require training programs, such as internships, to provide practical experience in the biomedical industry. Biomedical engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which reviews academic programs to ensure that they meet the standard for the professional engineering environment.
Bioengineering may be covered in several courses -- tissue engineering covers tissue organization and dynamics, biomaterials, stem cells and tissue-engineering methods. Genetic engineering includes knowledge of recombinant DNA technology, gene expression and viral and nonviral vectors. A biomedical engineering student will take biochemistry courses covering several topics including structural biology, macromolecular structures and enzyme mechanisms, and gene expression and regulation. Introductory course work covers statistics, dynamics, and mechanics in application to biological systems. Further coursework may cover biomechanics properties of subcellular structures and structure function relationships.
Coursework will also include bio-fluid dynamics and continuum mechanics at various scales. Usually available at the intermediate to advanced level of a biomedical engineering program, bio-fluid mechanics and processes in systems like the ocular, cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and renal. Usually combined with a lab, medical imaging systems covers the physics for each imagining modality -- X-ray computed tomography, NMR imaging, ultrasound and radiography. A quantitative analysis of neural processing includes reviewing neurotransmitter receptors, signaling pathways and the techniques used to observe signal transducers and receptor activation. Chemical signaling courses usually require extensive biochemistry prerequisites.
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