Department of bioengineering experiences growth

Due to the growing number of jobs in the field, Oakland University decided to create the Department of Bioengineering in 2019. 

This department is different compared to other departments at OU, because it is a part of both the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Computer Sciences. 

“The department is shared between two schools, which is something that has never happened before at Oakland University, so it is a very collaborative effect,” Shailesh Lal, the professor of biological sciences and chair of the Department Of Bioengineering said.

The department started as a program in engineering biology in 2007. Now, with it officially being  a department, there are over 80 students with this declared major. The first students to graduate from this department were at the end of the winter semester in 2020.

“It’s a field that combines biology, the knowledge of biological sciences and the knowledge of engineering,” Lal said.

The department is trying to become certified from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology within the next year. This will help the department be able to have long-term success within the university.

Students that major in Bioengineering can have a range of possible careers after graduation. Some possible routes students can take are bioinstrumentation, prosthetics, orthopedics and pharmaceuticals.

“The job growth in the field of bioengineering is going to be very good,” Lal said. “It’s better than other engineering fields, like electrical engineering and computer sciences. The job market is pretty bright, they think the job market will grow.”

Senior bioengineering major, Megan Fry, is the president of Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), a student organization on campus.

EMBS invites speakers to come and talk about the different things students can do with bioengineering to inform students about the career path. The subjects of the speakers can range from dentistry to engineering.

“We try to show students different things you can do with your bioengineering degree because it’s so diverse,” Fry said. “I think it’s a great club to get connected with other people in your major.”

Another senior bioengineering major and social media chair of EMBS, Paige Nightingale, has spent a year conducting research in a tissue engineering lab at OU. 

“I thought it was really beneficial, you don’t know what lab work is until you get into the grit of lab work and it teaches you a lot of skills outside of the classroom — which I think is very important,” Nightingale said. “It also shows you working in a lab, if that’s something you want to do post-graduation.” 

Nightingale experienced small class sizes, which allowed her to be able to form connections within her major. She was able to become informed about her possibilities and network throughout the process.

“The best way I can explain bioengineering is you take half biological sciences and half engineering and you mix them together,”  Nightingale said. “A big thing is the engineering behind the human body.”

Students from any major are able to join EMBS. To ask questions or join, email [email protected]. Students with questions about the Department of Bioengineering can visit or email Lal at [email protected]