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What is Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineers are first and foremost engineers. Biomedical engineering is the branch of engineering that uniquely leverages the vast knowledge base of biology and medicine to solve problems focused on healthcare and the human body.

According to the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, in Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,

“Biomedical engineers analyze and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care. Biomedical engineers may design instruments, devices, and software; bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine.

The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart.”

Specialty areas within the Biomedical Engineering discipline addressed by the Biomedical Curriculum at RIT

  • Bioinstrumentation
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics
  • Cellular and tissue engineering
  • Medical imaging/processing
  • Microfluidics
  • Signal Processing
  • Systems physiology

Biomedical engineers can be found working in a variety of settings depending on the type of work they do. Positions are available in academia, hospital laboratories, manufacturing settings as well as commercial offices. Biomedical Engineers are employed to:

  • Design systems and products, such as artificial internal organs, artificial devices that replace body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
  • Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of biological systems of humans and animals
  • Work with pharmaceutical companies to develop new drug therapies
  • Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment

A successful Biomedical Engineer will possess the following skills:

  • Analytical skills. Biomedical engineers must be able to analyze the needs of patients and customers to design appropriate solutions.
  • Communication skills. Because biomedical engineers sometimes work with patients and frequently work with medical scientists or other engineers, they must be able to express themselves clearly.
  • Listening skills. Biomedical engineers often work in teams and gather input from patients, therapists, physicians, and business professionals. They must seek others’ ideas and incorporate them into the problem-solving process.
  • Math skills. Biomedical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
  • Problem-solving skills. Biomedical engineers typically deal with and solve problems in complex biological systems.