Biomedical engineering is a still-emerging discipline that draws on biology and many of the traditional engineering fields. In essence it is the application of engineering to medical problems. Those problems are wide-ranging and require expertise from many fields. For example, chemical engineers can view an organ in the body as a chemical reactor or separation device; mechanical and aerospace engineers can view limbs as support elements; electrical engineers can view the brain and nervous system as a complicated relay system; materials engineers can look at the compatibility of artificial organs with blood as design of materials; biosystems engineers can view the interaction of a body with its environment as one of shelter design. One could come up with many more examples. At Iowa State University we think the best biomedical engineers are those who can understand the biology of the application and bring to bear their expertise where it is most applicable.
Thus we recommend students major in one of the traditional engineering fields and minor in bioengineering. Our bioengineering minor is set up to provide a needed background in biology along with some breadth in the important engineering expertise, illustrate the range of “flavors” of biomedical engineering, and acquire in-depth application within your major. Upon graduation, you can then pursue either an industrial position in biomedical engineering, graduate study in biomedical engineering or further study in your own major with research in graduate school in the biomedical applications.
For the next ISU catalog, we hope to have all biomedical engineering courses offered in the different engineering departments cross-listed in BioE so that it will be easy to see the range of what is offered. At the moment not all such courses appear under BioE.
For more information visit the Iowa State bioengineering minor webpage at www.engineering.iastate.edu/bioengineering.