GUEST COLUMN: Consider majoring in biomedical engineering

By Postie Editors

Biomedical engineering is the bridge between two majors — engineering and medicine. It’s a unique field of engineering that provides students an opportunity to learn about the human body, while also learning to use engineering tools that solve real world problems of the human health care system.

The Biomedical Engineering Society defines a biomedical engineer as one who “uses traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine, providing an overall enhancement of health care.” Because of its interdisciplinary nature as well as its importance to human health, biomedical engineering has become a large field of work and research. Professionals with different backgrounds come together to improve patient care and safety.

Medical doctors are divided into specialities that revolve around important organs — physicians specializing in the heart are cardiologists. There are also neurologists, nephrologists, orthopedists, dermatologists and so on. Similarly, biomedical engineers have specialities involving fascinating areas such as the development of artificial organs, biomedical instrumentation and signal processing, biomaterials, biomechanics, clinical engineering, medical imaging, orthopedic bioengineering and physiological modeling.

I am so excited to be able to work in such an interesting field — a field especially geared for helping others in this high-tech era the heath care system heavily depends on technology for patient treatment and care. By working in this field you have the satisfaction not only of working with cutting-edge technology, but also using your knowledge and expertise to help people return to their normal lives after their stay at the hospital.

Many scholarships and research grants are available from the different professional bodies associated with biomedical engineering that can help you study or carry out research work in biomedical engineering.

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Foundation awards two scholarships each year to students who are committed to healthcare technology management. The Whitaker Foundation has a fellows and scholars grant, a summer grant and an undergraduate grant. OU has a B.S. program in engineering biology; if you are interested in this program, contact the program coordinators.

There is also a thriving IEEE-EMBS Student Club. There’s a lot of enjoyment in becoming a member of such a nice group, where you can discuss the exciting field of biomedical engineering with your fellow students.

Dr. Barbara Oakley, associate professor of engineering in the department of industrial and systems engineering at OU, has co-edited the volume “Career Development in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.” This book is one-of-a-kind and provides in-depth knowledge on how to build your career in biomedical engineering and other related engineering fields. I encourage you to read this book, which is available in the Kresge library.

“The 15 Most Valuable College Majors,” a very recent report from Forbes, states, “At No. 1, biomedical engineering is the major that is most worth your tuition, time and effort. Biomedical engineers earn a median starting salary of $53,800, which grows an average of 82% to $97,800 by mid-career. Moreover, the BLS projects a whopping 61.7 percent growth of job opportunities in the field—the most of any other major on the list.”

Biomedical engineering is a fantastic field and I feel very lucky to call it my own.


Avinash Konkani is a doctoral student in Systems Engineering. Email him at [email protected]