To me, biomedical engineering is the convergence of biological sciences and traditional engineering; in essence, bioengineers are creating new technologies that improve the lives of others by innovation in the health and energy industries. In other words, bioengineers help act as a bridge between engineering and medicine.
There are so many things that I love about my major. To start with, it is mind boggling how many different ways you can be involved in biomedical engineering. There are so many different fascinating fields that you can delve into. Some of these are:
- Cancer treatment
- Tissue Engineering
- Genetic Engineering
- Orthopaedic applications
- Medical devices
- Implants and Prosthetics
Now, for me, you could literally throw a dart at that list while blindfolded and land among something that I would love to spend the rest of my life doing. Part of the reason that I love biomedical engineering is that you feel a definite connection to how you are giving back to your community by doing what you love to do. I am also completely fascinated by biology, and have been ever since I took AP Biology my senior year of high school.
I am personally extremely interested in tissue engineering and the concept of three dimensional printing. Some companies, like Organovo, are currently working on methods to produce individual organs for patients who need them. This would both cut down on the wait period for patients to find an acceptable organ donor and reduce the likelihood of rejection by the host body by personalizing the organ to that individual. Below are two links that really inspired me and kicked off my fascination with the possibilities that bioengineering has to offer:
I first saw this image my senior year while taking biology, and it completely changed what I wanted to do in life. The idea that you can positively affect someone’s life in such a substantial way, in this case by allowing a paralysis patient to use her thoughts to direct a mechanic arm to her mouth, ultimately led toward my decision that biomedical engineering is the right major for me. This is an example of neural engineering, a relatively new field with lots of possibilities to explore still.
Tissue engineering not for you? Pharmaceuticals are another huge aspect of bioengineering and companies like Amgen, Merck, Pfizer, and Gilead are all leading organizations dedicated to improving the lives of patients everywhere.
Okay.. okay… let’s say you’re not really interested in any of that stuff above. That’s okay, you can always consider medical school (if that is more your speed) using the things you learn in class because you are learning almost exactly what pre-health students are. In fact, I would say the majority of BME students at USC are pre-med or pre-pharm. None of that still for you? Consider consulting for companies like PWC, Deloitte, Accenture, and others. Biomedical engineers often make great consultants because they have a vast knowledge and many different skill sets in science and engineering.
In particular, some of the things that we learn about are:
- General & Organic Chemistry
- Materials Science
- Cell, Evolutionary, and Molecular Biology
- Electrical Engineering & Programming
Another thing that I love is that bioengineering is really just now starting to explode. There are so many companies and technologies that are becoming more and more viable in today’s world. The new Michelson center of engineering and life sciences, a building announced about a week ago, is a strong testament to bioengineering’s prominence in today’s scientific world. The building, which became possible after a $50 million donation, will be nearly two hundred thousand square feet of dedicated space to the convergence of biology and engineering.
In conclusion, there are literally endless possibilities and topics for you to explore in biomedical engineering, and let’s not forget, we’re just getting started.