Sunday, February 15, 2009

Biomedical engineering training


A prosthetic eye, an example of a biomedical engineering application of mechanical engineering and biocompatible materials to ophthalmology.
Biomedical engineers combine sound knowledge of engineering and biological science, and therefore tend to have a bachelors of science and advanced degrees from major universities, who are now improving their biomedical engineering curriculum because interest in the field is increasing. Many colleges of engineering now have a biomedical engineering program or department from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. Traditionally, biomedical engineering has been an interdisciplinary field to specialize in after completing an undergraduate degree in a more traditional discipline of engineering or science, the reason for this being the requirement for biomedical engineers to be equally knowledgeable in engineering and the biological sciences. However, undergraduate programs of study combining these two fields of knowledge are becoming more widespread, including programs for a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. As such, many students also pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering as a foundation for a continuing education in medical school. Though the number of biomedical engineers is currently low (as of 2004, under 10,000 in the U.S.), the number is expected to rise as modern medicine and technology improves.[4]
In the U.S., an increasing number of undergraduate programs are also becoming recognized by ABET as accredited bioengineering/biomedical engineering programs. Over 40 programs are currently accredited by ABET.[5][6]
As with many degrees, the reputation and ranking of a program may factor into the desirability of a degree holder for either employment or graduate admission. The reputation of many undergraduate degrees are also linked to the institution's graduate or research programs, which have some tangible factors for rating, such as research funding and volume, publications and citations.
Graduate education is also an important aspect in BME. Although many engineering professions do not require graduate level training, BME professions often recommend or require them.[7] Since many BME professions often involve scientific research, such as in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, graduate education may be highly desirable as undergraduate degrees typically do not provide substantial research training and experience.
Graduate programs in BME, like in other scientific fields, are highly varied and particular programs may emphasize certain aspects within the field. They may also feature extensive collaborative efforts with programs in other fields, owing again to the interdisciplinary nature of BME.
Education in BME also varies greatly around the world. By virtue of its extensive biotechnology sector, numerous major universities, and few internal barriers, the U.S. has progressed a great deal in the development of BME education and training. Europe, which also has a large biotechnology sector and an impressive education system, has encountered trouble in creating uniform standards as the European community attempts to bring down some of the national barriers that exist. Recently, initiatives such as BIOMEDEA have sprung up to develop BME-related education and professional standards.[8] Other countries, such as Australia, are recognizing and moving to correct deficiencies in their BME education.[9] Also, as high technology endeavors are usually marks of developed nations, some areas of the world are prone to slower development in education, including in BME.

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