The field of biomedical engineering is one of the most important and fastest growing sectors of medical development. Applying an engineering perspective to the medical world is a way of providing solutions to complex problems that have proven to be difficult. Biomedical engineering was formerly included as a specialization of other engineering and medical disciplines, but experts have recently started listing the field as being separate from either of these areas of study. Most of the biomedical engineering work is done in research and development, with the results producing medical devices for therapeutic purposes, implants, diagnostic equipment, medications, and biocompatible prostheses.
Because there are many applications of biomedical engineering, there has started to be a number of specializations within the discipline. Although there is a great deal of shared knowledge between these specializations, experts and students often align themselves with a specific purpose. Some of the more popular specializations include biomechanics, rehabilitation engineering, medical imaging, and clinical engineering.
One of the major functions that a biomedical engineer serves is to create medical devices that can be used to either aid in diagnosing a condition or provide treatment to a patient that has a specific condition. Examples of the machines that have been created and are now routinely used for diagnostic purposes are the EEG and MRI devices that are used to record brain activity and get a more detailed view of internal organs and the skeleton. Some examples of the treatment devices that have been developed include dialysis machines, corrective lenses, pacemakers, and dental implants.
With the increase of interest in biomedical engineering, a large number of universities with engineering programs have begun to offer degrees in the discipline. In contrast with many other engineering fields, a person that chooses to study the biomedical discipline will be faced with extra years of schooling. The vast majority of students will not only need to complete a Bachelor’s degree, but will also need to complete a Masters or Doctoral program before they enter a career in the biomedical engineering industry. Because the field is newer, there are still some concerns over creating a set of standards for the education of a biomedical engineer and there may be a large difference between the focal points provided by different universities.
Although a student that has completed all of their education can decide to become licensed as a professional engineer, this process is optional and not required by many employers. For those that do choose to receive an engineering license, an examination called the Fundamentals of Engineering must be passed for the person to be certified. Most biomedical engineers can expected to be employed by research centers or pharmaceutical companies to develop new products and improve existing models.