Biomedical engineers use engineering principles to create devices that study and solve medical problems. Examples of biomedical devices include prosthetics, artificial organs, imaging equipment, more. Some of the field’s most cutting edge research and applications involve the integration of natural biological materials and technology, especially at the microscopic scale. According to the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), biomedical engineers work in hospitals, research facilities, government agencies, and universities.
Biomedical engineering encompasses several different science and engineering disciplines, like biology, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and materials science. Various academic and career specializations clarify how these fields work together to enhance and save human lives.
The BMES lists the following among biomedical engineering’s primary specializations:
Biochemical engineering stands at the junction of biology, chemistry, and engineering. Like biomedical engineers, biochemical engineers develop tools and devices that work in biological systems, though not always for medical use. Those who do work in healthcare are more likely than their biomedical colleagues to focus their efforts on chemical processes in the body.
Postsecondary biomedical engineering instructors prepare and mentor the next generation of professionals. Not all professors spend their hours teaching courses, however. Universities are hotbeds of cutting edge research, and many of the latest studies and devices are penned or developed by teams of professors and students. Some colleges hire research professors— instructors who devote almost all of their time to research activities.
Materials engineers study the properties of various materials—metals, polymers, ceramics, and others—to find new applications for them or to advise companies about how they respond in certain conditions. Increasingly, the materials they work with have biomedical applications. Biomedical applications of materials may relate to biosensors, drug delivery, tissue engineering, artificial organs, and more. Some material engineers work to develop new materials mimic natural biological materials and their processes.
Learn more about how these 20 leading professors of biomedical engineering are helping to advance the field, whilst ensuring their students join the vanguard and continue to innovate.
Engineering internships are an increasingly important part of the transition from student to engineer. Internships provide an opportunity to put theoretical skills to work in hands-on environments. They also give engineering students valuable work experience, networking opportunities, and future career options.
Invasive medical procedures often involve pain and permanent scarring. With a scale on a molecular level and with the ingenuity that comes with engineering, nanotechnology and biomedical engineering have great capacity to transition invasive medical procedures into non-invasive ones.
The speed, precision, and possibility demonstrated by 3D printing has not escaped the notice of the regenerative medicine branch of bioengineering. Bioprinting, an emerging technology for creating living tissue and organs in the lab, is one way in which biomedical engineers are exploring how to solve the soaring demand for organ transplants.
Why are women underrepresented in engineering, the top-paying undergraduate major in the country? Why does a disproportionate amount of engineering research funding go to men? Which schools are actively creating opportunities for women? Which female engineers are leading the way? Find out here.