Like most new fields, BME developed because of the need to address complex problems that require interdisciplinary knowledge. A strong BME program will provide students with the skills necessary to work as engineers as well as provide physiological and biological foundations that are not included in more traditional engineering programs. According to the National Science Foundation, BME is the fastest growing branch of engineering in terms of student enrollment.
There are downsides to broad studies.
Pursuing biomedical engineering is a little like participating in many activities as a kid. You’ll take some classes in programming, and then get your toes wet with mechanics, and then take some classes in electrical engineering. And of course, you’ll take chemistry and biology courses. What does that make you in the end? In fact, you’ll come out the other end a well-rounded engineer who knows a bit about all branches of engineering, as well as the material sciences and medicine. The downside is that you might not be specialized enough in a particular area (mechanical, chemical or electrical, for example) to consider a career in one of these fields.
If you’re committed to the biomedical industry, this isn’t a problem. But it’s worth noting that when such companies look to hire, they won’t restrict themselves to biomedical engineers. They’ll also consider electrical, mechanical, and computer science engineers, in which case, being a jack–of–all–trades may work against you. Why hire a biomedical engineer with a limited background in circuits and SolidWorks (a computer-aided design program) when they could hire a mechanical engineer with lots of SolidWorks experience, or an electrical engineer who’s worked with circuitry for many years?
Wide knowledge has its advantages.
Of course, the advantage of being a biomedical engineer with a biomedical engineering degree from a reputed university is that you’ll have greater knowledge and an increased understanding of the biological side of things. A mechanical engineer might be better with software, but s/he may not know much about the biocompatibility of what s/he is designing, nor fully understand how her device would be used in a medical capacity. This is where biomedical engineers shine; they fill this niche and stand out from other specializations because of their varied training.
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