[heading style=”2″] INTRODUCTION TO BME [/heading]
Biomedical is such a cutting-edge path that it is safe to term it as one of the most promising fields of future. So, it is wonderful if you are thinking about getting into this, as it is always good to be entering into things that are new and growing because that offers you a lot of room for upward mobility.
As a Biomedical engineer, you have a lot to offer to the society. Biomedical engineering has a lot of different sub-branches such as Tissue Engineering, Medical Instrumentation, Biomechanics, Neural Engineering, Drug Delivery, BioMEMS etc. (for detailed information, read Key Areas).
So, let us first understand the word ‘Biomedical Engineering’ itself. Biomedical Engineering can be looked upon as a bridge that connects the two very important fields: Medical and Engineering. Now, you may wonder the relationship between two extreme fields, such as medical and engineering. Let us consider an example: Prosthetic Arm (it is a device that replaces a missing human arm). Now, in order to construct a prosthetic arm, a person needs to know about electronics, the kind of microprocessor chips to use and all the related engineering principles. But at the same time, the prosthetic arm has to act and function like a human arm, for which, the person also needs to understand the anatomy and physiology of an actual human arm. This is where a biomedical engineer comes in. A biomedical engineer not only understands the engineering principles but is also well versed in the human anatomy and physiology.
Majoring in biomedical engineering at an undergraduate level is not a pre-requisite if you wish to pursue it at post-graduate level. A lot of schools still do not offer biomedical engineering (also known as Bioengineering) at an undergraduate level but that does not deprive you of joining the stream at post graduate level. If you have a different background at undergraduate level, you can definitely take some extra biology classes and still be ready for biomedical engineering after graduation. Biomedical Engineering is an interdisciplinary branch which has a place for students from a vast spectrum of backgrounds such as chemical, material science, electrical, mechanical, computer science and biological engineering to name a few. Read Switching Lanes for a better understanding of how you can fit in this field.
One thing to understand here is that biomedical engineers are not biology majors. They definitely take a few classes of biology, anatomy and physiology but what also forms a major part of their coursework are subjects such as advanced calculus, fluid dynamics, logic, electrical circuit design, control systems, image processing, instrumentation principles etc. So, it is definitely a huge branch and actually includes subjects which both the traditional engineers as well as the doctors study.
Biomedical engineers use the engineering principles to improve the health and quality of life of people. With all the wonderful advancements in this field, the average life span a person has definitely increased over the last few decades. A soldier can now receive quick and better service in war-prone areas, with the developments in the field of biomechanics. A grandmother’s life can now be saved with a heart pacemaker or an artificial heart. A pregnant lady can ensure complete safety of her fetus with an advanced ultrasound machine. And there is a biomedical engineer behind all of these inventions. Hence, this field not only gives you an intellectual satisfaction but also makes you feel good about the fact that your contributions help in making this world a better place to live for everyone.