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Best background for artificial limbs and neuroengineering?

  1. Dec 2, 2012 #1
    I'm an undergraduate in chemical and biomolecular engineering. After working on a computational research project involving molecular modeling of polymers involved in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, I've decided I'd like to go to graduate school in biomedical engineering to study neuroengineering, artificial nerves, and artificial limbs that are extremely close to real limbs. I want to approach these problems from an engineering persepective.

    However, should I change my major to complement this background? I could change my major to biomedical engineering, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering.

    Here's my synopsis...

    Chemical engineering - good for the design and synthesis of polymers that would inevitably be involved in fusing artifical limbs and nerves to living limbs and nerves. The materials involved in this process would be soft biomaterials consisting of polymers rather than hard structures (in which case materials science and engineering would be beneficial). A huge problem in neuroengineering is finding ways to fuse a real nerve and artifical nerve on a soft fluid material without creating an inflammatory response.

    Biomedical engineering - good for making connections between engineering principles and biological processes. The entire major itself is not very technical but it is good for bridging the gaps that exist between engineered artificial structures and living structures.

    Electrical engineering - good for signal processing and electrical studies of nerve connections. This would be responsible for the inner hardware and robotics of an artificial limb design (basically what makes the limb "work"). Since this is an extremely important major for robotics and artificial limbs are basically a biological robot, I'm considering this.

    Mechanical engineering - good for understanding the mechanics and movement of the limb. Assessing the statics and dynamics of a limb would be beneficial to optimizing the biomechanics of the limb after the entire process (actually getting it to work) has completed. This major also complements study in robots.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should pursue as my undergraduate degree if I want to do research in neuroengineering/biorobotics? I've considered chemical engineering with as many ECE, BME, and MechE classes as possible... I'm aware I'll catch up in graduate school too.

    Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
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