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The right degree for R&D in Biomedical Engineering

  1. Mar 7, 2014 #1
    I graduated last spring with a degree in Applied Physics and minors in biomedical engineering and mathematics. I recently was accepted to the Masters of Engineering in biomedical engineering at Colorado State University but am looking eventually to move into the M.S. program or possibly even a Ph.d. I love research and have been doing some sort or another since I was a freshman and would like to do research and development in industry or possibly work in a public sector research lab. I don't really want to go into academia, and even if I did the jobs are very competitive. I have been on the job market for the past year with no avail, not a lot of people looking for physics BS, but even my engineering friends (BS) who have gotten jobs are almost entirely in process engineering, quality assurance, or field support not R and D. My question is between and M.E., M.S. or Ph.d what degree is best, and will open the most job opportunities for research and design particularly in medical imaging and medical devices.

    Thanks \
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2014 #2


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    I think that's too broad of a question to get a real valid answer for.

    Regardless of your degree, most entry level positions are unlikly to give you an R&D project and say run with it, unless you get in on the ground floor with a startup maybe.

    One thing you may want to consider though is that if you aim for a PhD in one of these fields you can also aim to get involved in a project that can transition into something marketable when you're finished - either as your own venture or something that others are likely to pick up on.
  4. Mar 9, 2014 #3
    Choppy has a good take, and you should listen. I'll give you some flavor from my own experience. I work in R&D in medical devices, and I came in the door ten years ago with an undergrad degree in physics. I started work as a process engineer doing manufacturing support. I did that for three and a half years before moving to R&D. This is common, for simple reasons. There are many, many more jobs in process engineering, quality assurance, or field support than there are in R&D. If you do well in an entry-level job, moving to R&D can be done. However, not everyone does. You need to have the right skills to make it worthwhile.

    It is possible to start your career in R&D. By which I mean, I have seen it happen. I have not seen it happen often. Having a graduate degree here can help. Especially if your research was in the field you intend to enter. However, even with a PhD, most often my newly hired colleagues come in and help on a commercial product for a couple years before moving to R&D.

    Ten years on, I am still a process engineer. Why? Because a product you can't make is a product you can't sell. I have specialized in taking a prototype device and making it commercial. There is an entire R&D ecosystem of people whose work has varying degrees of relation to product you might actually sell. I work in the world of taking new products to market. Others work in a world of making new and unique things every day, and maybe 1 in a 100 of those I commercialize.

    As for the degree, I see this as an amortization calculation. Will the time you invest now pay off in a reasonable time frame in the future? [keeping in mind certain degrees may be qualifications for things you may want to do]
  5. Mar 10, 2014 #4


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    And you may find that there are even more avenues than R&D from your educational pursuit.
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