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BEng Materials Engineering to MSc Biomedical Engineering?

  1. Dec 22, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I have been reading this forums for a while, and today I made an account!

    Anyway, I am currently a first year Materials Engineering student. Whilst I know it is still very early to start thinking about postgrad, I realised that my interest lies within biomaterials/bioengineering, to then potentially get into the pharmaceutical industry.

    My university offers a course in Biomaterials Engineering, but I am not allowed to switch (I attend a British University). Would it be possible to get a BEng in Materials Engineering and then an MSc in Biomedical Engineering? Or would it be possible to work in pharmaceutical research with an MEng in Materials Engineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2015 #2
    Thanks for the post! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post?
  4. Jan 4, 2016 #3
    What is it in the pharma industry that specifically interests you? That should probably steer you in one direction or another. I will give you an example to help guide your consideration. Many active ingredients [what most people call the drug] are combined with an excipient [something that is not the drug but affects how it works in the body]. These things together with any inactive ingredients are known as a formulation. Engineers and scientists who design and produce formulations can have a background in material science or materials engineering. If you are curious about this, I encourage you to look at the professional society for pharmaceutical engineering, ISPE.

    Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the MSc program in question to know whether you can enter it with a BEng in Materials, but this should be a question you can get answered by someone at your school. I can at least comment that materials engineering is very relevant to bioengineering in general.

    In my experience, biomedical engineering tends to focus on medical devices rather than pharmaceuticals. This can be softened somewhat if you are talking about combination devices. Since I don't know what program you are considering, I cannot give you more detailed advice than that. However, it is probably not impossible to work in pharma with a BioE background. If you are specifically interested in drug discovery, this is probably not the right background, but there is a great deal more to pharma than drug discovery.
  5. Jan 4, 2016 #4


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    To the OP:

    I used to work for a large pharmaceutical company (with offices, research labs, and production facilities in Canada, the US, and in a number of European countries). Most of the engineers that I've known had a background in chemical engineering, which would make sense since they were primarily involved in the production side of the drug formulation. I would imagine that those with a materials science or engineering background could also potentially work in the pharmaceutical sector as well.

    Now as far as biomedical engineering is concerned, Ben Espen is correct that there tends to be a greater emphasis on medical devices than pharmaceuticals. However, I am also aware that there is also considerable research within biomedical engineering in areas such as biomaterials where presumably a materials science background could come in handy. Here is a link to the biomedical engineering institute associated with my alma mater.

  6. Jan 6, 2016 #5
    The design of excipients does indeed sound interesting. I am interested in multiple sectors of the industry, including drug delivery.

    The reason why I chose Materials Engineering is that I am very interested in biomaterials/tissue engineering/stem cells, whilst not limiting myself to only this sector (Materials engineers are heavily recruited by Aerospace companies for example), keeping in mind that I could have pursued an MSc/PhD to specialise. Having worked in the industry, do you have any idea how hard breaking it into this sector is?
  7. Jan 6, 2016 #6


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    I'm not too sure, since I'm a biostatistician, working in the area of clinical trials, and didn't personally work that closely on either the manufacturing or the direct bench science R&D (where I would presume the materials engineers or chemical engineers would likely work in). I know that the engineers who have worked in the pharmaceutical sector didn't have too much difficulty finding employment, but that would also depend on whether pharmaceutical firms are actively hiring in these areas.
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