Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary field of study that integrates knowledge of engineering principles with the biomedical sciences. It is a very diverse field, with biomedical engineers working in areas ranging from medical imaging to regenerative medicine. Some major contributions of biomedical engineering include the left ventricular assist device (LVAD), artificial joints, hemodialysis, bioengineered skin, coronary stents, computed tomography (CT), and flexible endoscopes. Students who choose biomedical engineering are interested in contributing to human health and quality of life, but do not routinely interact directly with patients, as do physicians. Due to the need to complete additional coursework beyond BME degree requirements, this major is not a primary route for pre-medical studies.
The biomedical engineering curriculum has been designed to provide a solid foundation in mathematics, life and physical sciences, and engineering. Sufficient flexibility in the upper division requirements encourages students to explore specializations within the field, through the judicious selection of engineering and science electives. Our instructional program is designed to impart knowledge of contemporary issues at the forefront of biomedical engineering research. Employment opportunities exist in industry, hospitals, academic research and teaching institutes, national laboratories, or government regulatory agencies. The major also provides excellent grounding in the skills necessary for professional or graduate-level studies in biological and health sciences.
Undergraduate Enrollment: Biomedical Engineering
The mission of the Biomedical Engineering Department is:
To combine exceptional teaching with state-of-the-art research for the advancement of technologies and computational techniques that meet medical and societal challenges.
BME Program Educational Objectives
Our educational program has the objective to prepare our undergraduates to
1) Develop successful careers related to Biomedical Engineering or another area of the student’s choosing, through employment in industry or government, or through pursuit of graduate or professional degrees; and
2) Contribute effectively to society through engineering practice, research and development, education, or in governmental, regulatory or legal aspects.
Our teaching is designed to impart a strong foundation in mathematics, life and physical sciences, and engineering, as well as knowledge of contemporary issues at the forefront of biomedical engineering research. Students completing the program will have:
(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
(c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
(d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
(e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) an ability to communicate effectively
(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
The Biomedical Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.
As Biomedical Engineering is defined so broadly, specializing in a subfield of engineering can help to provide more in-depth expertise in a focus area. Through the judicious selection of upper division engineering and science electives, students can create this depth in one of our suggested areas of specialization or in an area of the student’s choosing. One of the strengths of the UC Davis program is the flexibility to design one’s own emphasis of study.These specializations are neither required nor degree-notated.
This is a broad subfield that includes orthopedic/rehabilitation engineering (including the design of wheelchairs and prosthetics) as well as the study of mechanical forces produced by biological systems. Biomechanics allows a better understanding of the fluid dynamics of blood flow and the forces acting on tissue in the artery to allow the design of better cardiovascular interventions. This field involves more intensive study of mechanics, dynamics and thermodynamics.
Cellular and Tissue Engineering
This focus area applies biomedical engineering principles to control behavior at the gene, protein, cell, and tissue level. Scientists in this area can work in diverse areas including cellular therapies, protein production, gene therapy, tissue engineering and regeneration, and biomaterials development. This field can require study in biomedical transport, natural or synthetic biomaterials, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. It draws heavily from knowledge in the chemical and biological sciences.
The visualization of anatomical structure, physiological processes, metabolic activity and molecular expression in living tissues is important to accomplish goals that include the diagnosis of disease, the development of new therapeutics, the evaluation of the response to therapeutics, and the guidance of interventional procedures. Our program has a particular strength in molecular imaging, in which molecular-scale events are detected within living systems. An imaging bioengineer can work in areas ranging from developing instruments for imaging, to creating algorithms for three-dimensional reconstruction of imaging data, to generating new contrast agents for enhancing image quality. Depending upon the area of interest, this field can require further study in electronics signal processing, chemistry or computer programming.
This is a diverse area that can include the development of instruments, apparatuses, machines, implants, or in-vitro reagents intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease. Biomedical engineers have begun to combine technologies including pharmaceuticals, electronics and mechanical devices in the development of combination medical treatments.
Systems & Synthetic Biology
In this area, concepts, principles and techniques from engineering are applied to understand and build biological processes and systems at a fundamental level. Engineers describe biochemical, genetic, and mechanical processes mathematically and integrate this information into models of natural and synthetic systems. These models are studied analytically, computationally and statistically to uncover design principles of natural systems and to guide development of methods capable of redirecting normal expression for biotechnological purposes or correcting pathological expression for therapeutic purposes.
Engineering is playing an increasing role in the practice of medicine, and students interested in medicine can focus on the intersection of engineering and medicine. To meet admission requirements for medical school, students must complete extra course work. These courses are in addition to the listed Department of Biomedical Engineering curricular requirements.