My Own, Evolving Definition of Biomedical Engineering!

Lauren Pelo-2015 Viterbi Class 0 Comments

When I was coming into USC and talking to people about what I was about to study in school, I honestly wasn’t sure how to define my chosen major – biomedical engineering. I could come up with a very vague definition of biomedical engineering, but I quickly realized this definition did not please anyone when the question of “what is biomedical engineering” was asked. The answer I gave people before coming to USC was this: biomedical engineering, in my opinion, is applying engineering principles of design and innovation to the healthcare industry. The problem with this answer was that it didn’t give people images of what a biomedical engineering product may be.

I realized that biomedical engineering gives students a ton of unique pathways to follow, which is why the major is so hard to define. You can work in pharmaceuticals, tissue engineering, medical imaging, medical implants or prosthetics, neural engineering, and many, many more divisions. Once you pick which path you would like to potentially take, it is much easier to define your major. Now, “picking your path” sounds much easier than it actually is for a lot of people.


I still struggle with deciding what path to take in biomedical engineering. I have ruled certain divisions out, but it is super tough to choose one because everything sounds so interesting! There is also a lot of crossover between divisions, so things get complicated. What I have realized, though, is that it is not super important to choose what you want to work with right away. Undergraduate research at USC is a great way to get involved with potential products that seem interesting to you, and my research project on the fetal pacemaker has been a huge help with my decision on what to do with biomedical engineering. By looking into different research projects on campus and working in the fetal pacemaker laboratory, I now know that I want to work with medical devices. I am not sure exactly which type of devices, but I’m getting there!

At USC, biomedical engineers get to take classes in a wide range of engineering branches. I have taken a couple electrical engineering courses, an industrial and systems engineering course, and just about every general science class that you can imagine. Because biomedical engineers get this wide range of knowledge in several differing fields, we are indirectly being trained to be in a managing position of an engineering team. Our biomedical engineering classes teach us to integrate the information we have learned in our non-biomedical engineering classes to create a final product. These classes help us learn how to tie different engineering and science principles together, which makes biomedical engineers great overseers of projects that may include people from different backgrounds – like an electrical engineer working with a mechanical engineer and doctor.

I was really excited when I realized that biomedical engineering is a good preparation for more of the business portions of engineering companies. Personally, I am more interested in the business aspects of engineering than the actual research and development of products themselves. I would love to end up in a management position of an engineering company, so I think that this major ended up being the perfect choice for me!


If you are considering biomedical engineering and have any questions at all about my experiences studying BME, please feel free to contact me!

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