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Engineering Specialize in biomechanics in biomedical engineering

  1. Jul 15, 2010 #1
    Say I want to specialize in biomechanics in biomedical engineering. Should I go strait to a undergraduate biomedical engineering program or a mechanical engineering program and then specialize?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2010 #2
    Re: Biomechanics

    For me, definitely mechanical engineering.

    I trained as a physicist, have my masters in biomedical engineering (sort of, my degrees are complicated) and PhD in a related field. My department actually actively seeks out graduates of more 'pure' disciplines for bioengineering programmes. That is, students of electrical, mechanical engineering, materials science or physics. The reason for this is that mechanical engineers know a great deal about mechanics. Electrical engineers similarly with their field. They can then, relatively easily, pick up necessary biology and apply their expertise thinking like a mechanical engineer.

    Bioengineering is, obviously, an interdisciplinary field. I feel that it's more useful to have a pure specialist come in and think the way that they have been trained to. For me, a bioengineering undergraduate is too broad - you're trying to mix in electronics, mechanics, materials science, anatomy, biology and pharmacology all into one pot.

    You should have a look at mechanical engineering programmes in detail too - there may be some biomechanics electives that could give you a leg-up when it comes to post-grad.

    Addition: In my experience, those who have trained in bioengeering at undergraduate (at good universities, might I add) are missing key things like ability with CAD software, FE analysis and general programming/modelling.

    Lastly: obviously I have my preference. This, clearly, doesn't make for a rule. If you look at the bioengineering course and decide it looks amazing - then it wouldn't be unreasonable for you to go for it - you will still have plenty of options afterwards. For instance, (you don't say where you are from) but if you're from the UK then the NHS bioengineering programme actually requires an accredited undergraduate (or post-graduate masters) degree.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2010
  4. Jul 15, 2010 #3
    Re: Biomechanics

    ok so ur saying with a mechanical engineering degree, i will have more of a background and be looked at as more knowledgeable in biomechanics. So would a bachelors degree in mechanical and a masters in biomedical (specifically biomechanics) work?
  5. Jul 16, 2010 #4
    Re: Biomechanics

    Yes, that's exactly what I would suggest. If you come to the end of a bachelors and decide you want to work in research (i.e. do a PhD) then you could still apply to biomechanics programmes as a mechanical engineer. They would (should - they do at my department) have a conversion course at the start so you can learn the necessary biology/anatomy.
  6. Jul 17, 2010 #5
    Re: Biomechanics

    Ok thanks. now i know biomedical engineering as a whole has a really good future but does a job specializing in biomechanics itself have a promising future?
  7. Jul 19, 2010 #6
    Re: Biomechanics

    There is certainly a lot of work to be done in biomechanics. And, depending on what you want to do, there will always be jobs. A biomechanics engineer, for instance, will always have a place in a prosthetics and orthotics ward in hospitals - they will design prosthesis and see the patient through the process of finding one that works for them. There are no standards with things like that, everyone is a little different - each patient and project is unique.

    Otherwise, there are plenty of opportunities in research and other industries. Biomechanics (obviously) has plenty of applications in sport science, for instance. Even things like sports clothing finds a use for a biomechanics specialist. They need someone that can properly assess things like gait and understand forces for, say, shoes, shoe implants and such so that it can be decided more objectively what will be better for an athlete in the long term.

    So yes, I think that biomechanics is looking good. Recent progression in materials science and other fields in biomedical engineering are having an impact on this too - with new materials to work with, and new understanding of blood/material interactions, we're finding that biomechanics specialists have much more to work with. Designing the artificial knee, as an example, is a work that will take forever to finish. It might not seem obvious, but even things like understanding the structure of bone is a big (rather, important) research topic nowadays. The mechanical properties of bone are rather poorly understood and modelled, but are obviously very important. This is another area where a mechanical engineer is of much more use than a straight-up BME graduate.
  8. Jul 19, 2010 #7
    Re: Biomechanics

    ok yea. I read on a website that orthopedic engineering (bones, muscles, etc.) as well as tissue engineering will have a high growth in the future. Thanks a lot for your help. If I have any more questions, I will be sure to let you know.
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