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Should I get a Master's in biomedical engineering?

  1. Jul 3, 2010 #1
    Hey all,
    So here's my dilemma. I am a neuroscience major and I was planning on just doing a PhD in some subfield of neuroscience right after I graduate. However, I've realize that a lot (though not all) of my interests are things that would be aided by some background in biomedical engineering. I'm interested in computer-brain interfaces, neural implants, using cultured neurons to control machines (such as this http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/11/02/brain.dish/).

    Do you think a Master's in biomedical engineering in necessary for me? It will be harder for me to get in because I'm not an engineering major, but I still think I can get accepted since I plan on minoring in math and I have good grades. I haven't taken any classes on electronics, though. After the Master's, I would still want a PhD (so that's a lot of education to pay for).

    Let me give you an example of something I'd like to do one day, and you can tell me if I need a biomedical engineering background. People debate the intelligence of dolphins, some saying they could be almost as intelligent as us, but since dolphins don't have hands, they can't build a civilization. So I'd love to one day insert chips into the brains of some dolphins so they can remote control some robotic arms (this sort of thing has already been done with monkeys and at least one human, Kevin Warwick). If the dolphins start building things with their robotic arms--walls, tunnels, shelters, tools--then this would be a breakthrough in science!

    Now, my question: do I need a Master's in biomedical engineering to do this experiment, or just a PhD in cognitive neuroscience?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2010 #2


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    You need ethics board approval.

    On a more serious note - you need to look at the entrance requirements for the BME programs that you're interested in. I've known some programs to accept physics majors. Neuroscience is one of those programs that can vary significantly from school to school, so you'll likely have to contact the departments you're interested in directly.
  4. Jul 3, 2010 #3
    Thanks Choppy. I know getting in could be iffy since I don't have an engineering degree, but my real question wasn't so much that. My real question was if I need a BME degree.

    As far as ethics board approval goes, if this experiment of mine were to show dolphins to be capable of building tools and dwellings, it would probably be the greatest leap forward for animal welfare in history. Dolphins are still hunted and killed by humans in many parts of the world. I can't imagine how anyone who seriously care about animal welfare could be against this experiment. As I say, something similar has already been done with a human, Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading.
  5. Jul 3, 2010 #4
    A lot of the professors I know working in the area you talk of in paragraph 1 are not from BME but rather have an electrical engineering background. The electrical engineering part is a lot harder than learning the bio part.

    Also, I'm not really seeing how potentially showing dolphins being able to use primitive tools is important to anyone other than biologists, but then again I have no interest in the area.
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