- What is Biomedical Engineering?
Biomedical engineering is an emerging field in which engineers use traditional engineering techniques to solve medical and health-related problems. The biomedical engineer is a valuable resource for industry as he/she offers the ability to communicate with both engineers and clinicians. Since they speak both the languages of engineering and medicine, they are well suited to coordinate interactions with each group to improve both the speed in which projects can be completed and the project’s final quality.Biomedical engineering research is also a growing field, as funding agencies are beginning to understand the ability of engineers to find high-tech solutions to medical/health problems.Biomedical engineering is a diverse field having applications in all traditional engineering specialties; thus, students from any engineering background may flourish as a biomedical engineer.
- What types of jobs could I get with a Biomedical Engineering degree?
There are many career opportunities for biomedical engineers in both industry and academia. In industry, biomedical engineers may function in a wide range of capacities: to design instruments, devices, and software, to bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures, or to conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. UK-CBME graduates are employed by companies such as NASA, GE, Siemens, Biomet, Encore, Ethicon, and Bausch and Lomb. UK-CBME graduates also have continued their education through medical school or continued engineering degrees. For more information, please see Career Opportunities.
- I haven’t taken a biology course since high school?
Can I still apply?Absolutely! The suggested undergraduate courses are highly dependent on the area of biomedical engineering in which you are interested (the lab you want to work in), but biology is not a prerequisite for applying to the biomedical engineering program.
- What courses should I take before I apply?
The prerequisite for admission is completion of a bachelors degree from an ABET-accredited undergraduate engineering program or equivalent.Students often find that prior experience with physiology helps with the physiology core course (PGY-412G). PGY-206, or equivalent, may help students to better understand the material covered in the PGY-412G course. Other undergraduate courses may be beneficial to specific biomedical specialties. Discuss these courses with your future graduate advisor or the Director of Graduate studies on an individual basis.
- I’m worried about the Physiology core course. Do I really need to take it to be a BME student?
Yes. Physiology is a defining course for biomedical engineers as this course more than any other separates a biomedical engineer from his/her traditional engineering counterpart. Anxiety about taking a physiology course is common for students who are currently enrolled in traditional engineering programs. Although BME graduate students often find this course challenging, they survive. The important concepts for your area of expertise will be re-iterated though your BME core and elective courses as well as through your research.
- Is there an undergraduate biomedical engineering program at UK?
The biomedical engineering program at UK is strictly a graduate program; however, we are working with the traditional engineering disciplines to establish an undergraduate certificate program in biomedical engineering. Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) currently offers a “pre-biomedical engineering” track. Students in the BME undergraduate track through Agricultural Engineering receive a Bachelor of Science in BAE, but they take special sections of undergraduate courses with biomedical engineering emphasis and examples. These students are well prepared to either enter a career after completion of their bachelor’s degree or to continue their education in the BME master’s degree program. The CBME also participates in the University Scholars Program, which offers highly motivated undergraduates the opportunity to integrate their undergraduate and graduate courses in a single continuous program culminating in both a baccalaureate and master’s degree. Currently available are programs of study leading to a B.S. degree in BAE, Mechanical Engineering, or Electrical Engineering followed by an M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering. We are working with other traditional engineering departments to establish similar programs.
- Are there RA/TA positions available in biomedical engineering at UK?
Research Assistant (RA) positions are available and are awarded on an competitive basis. Discuss funding options with individual professors to see what opportunities are available. Unfortunately, because the UK-BME program does not have an undergraduate curriculum, TA positions are not currently available.
- What degrees are available through the UK-BME program?
The UK Center for Biomedical Engineering is a graduate center for research and graduate studies. Traditional and Professional M.S. degrees and the Ph.D. degree are available through the UK-BME program.
- Is the UK-BME program Engineering or Life Science?
The UK-CBME has a strong tradition of engineering research. Although the program is tightly associated with the UK Medical Center (and officially located under the UKMC), the BME program remains an engineering curriculum. Some of ourprofessors have joint appointments in the College of Engineering and the Director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering frequently interacts with the chair of traditional engineering programs in the College. The UK-BMES is also involved with the Engineering Student Council (ESC) and participate in College of Engineering venues throughout the year.
- I only have a 3.2 GPA in my undergraduate program. Are these grades good enough to consider graduate school?Although grades serve as an indicator of a student’s undergraduate performance and graduate potential, they are not the only consideration for admission to the graduate program. Discuss your undergraduate grades and experiences with the Director of Graduate Studies or a faculty member of interest on an individual basis before counting yourself out!
- What about the GRE?The GRE is a necessary evil. It is required for admission to the Graduate School and is used to assign financial awards; however, the CBME faculty realize that standardized test scores do not necessarily reflect the potential of a BME student. Discuss your test scores with the Director of Graduate Studies or with your professor of choice on an individual basis.
- How is UK different from other biomedical engineering programs?
- Close-knit community:
- We foster a strong sense of community amongst our graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and staff. Students are an integral and important part of the Center and are encouraged to be active, contributing members of our scientific community. We encourage a friendly and collegial scholarly community, in which people with diverse backgrounds can flourish. In addition to classroom and research activities, periodic social activities, such as fall and spring picnics and a winter holiday party, further strengthen relationships that can last a lifetime.
- Interdisciplinary environment:
- Although situated in its own building, it is ideally physically between the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Dentistry, Engineering, Medicine, and Pharmacy and the Chandler Medical Center. The CBME has close ties to faculty in programs within each of these units. These interactions are beneficial to BME students, as they have the opportunity to learn from faculty in each of these related programs. All these units are within a five minute walk from the CBME.
- Many biomedical engineering programs are “add-ons” to traditional engineering programs. In these situations, the program is scattered across campus, isolating the student from other BME students and faculty. The UK Center for Biomedical Engineering offers a consolidated environment where the core biomedical engineering program is housed within a single building. This leads to improved cooperation between laboratories and across specialties.
- The UK-BME program has been a degree granting program since 1990; thus, the program has been training biomedical engineering students for more than 10 years. However, its 10 years as a degree-granting program are just scratch the surface of the biomedical engineering experience at UK. Although the field of biomedical engineering had yet to be named as such, the first graduate degree based on biomedical engineering research at UK was awarded in 1959. As a research center, the center was funded for numerous high-profile projects by NASA and others. The first computer on UK’s campus was housed in the CBME and used to control the 20 foot centrifuge which was used to study the effects of microgravity on the cardiovascular system. In recognition of its contributions to the field, the Center for Biomedical Engineering was officially established in 1985.
- The UK student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) has been nationally recognized on four occasions in since 1993. The BMES national society has awarded its Meritorious Achievement award to the UK-BMES to recognize the society’s strong professional development and service activities. The UK-BMES participates in numerous activities throughout the year, including the College of Engineering open house, E-Day, each February.
- I’m still interested in Biomedical Engineering. What should I do now?
There are a few steps that we recommend for you to follow:
- Browse the Web:
- First, browse the remainder of the UK-CBME and BMES web pages the get a better feel for the research program and academic curriculum. Familiarize yourself with the people associated with the CBME and try to focus your search on a few labs of interest. Contact the faculty members in charge of these labs for more information on current projects and funding opportunities.
- Visit the CBME:
- If it is convenient for you to visit the CBME, contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-257-8101) to schedule a visit. This can be an invaluable opportunity to meet the faculty, staff, and students of the UK-CBME and see where you feel most comfortable.
- Still want More?
- If you are a UK undergraduate or are in the Lexington area, consider: (1) taking a BME course as a senior level elective [BME 501, 481 and 530 are recommended], (2) taking an independent study in biomedical engineering with a faculty member of interest (again as an undergraduate elective), or (3) discuss possibilities of working as an undergraduate research assistant with a faculty member of interest. Discuss these options with a given faculty member on an individual basis or contact the Director of Graduate Studies for more information
Admissions Frequently Asked Questions
How many students do we admit each semester?
There is no set number of students that we admit into our program every semester. As the text below about the “Process used to offer Admission and financial support” explains, the number of students whom we admit varies from semester to semester depending on the openings that are available in individual faculty members groups.
If one does not have an undergraduate degree from an accredited engineering program, is the student eligible for admission into our program?
Please see the information under “Guidelines for Students with Non-Engineering Backgrounds” for more information about this issue.
Is it necessary to have completed an MS degree to be admitted into the PhD program?
No. Exceptionally qualified individuals can be admitted directly into the PhD program without having to have completed an MS degree first.
How long does it take to complete MS and PhD degrees?
Our programs are research intensive, therefore, the duration within which these degrees can be completed can vary considerably and largely depends upon the productivity of the students. In general, we expect our students to complete MS degrees in about two years and PhD degrees in about four to five years. As stated before, these durations are very difficult to predict because of our program’s heavy emphasis on original research so prospective applicants should use these durations as general estimates and not guaranteed time frames.
If an applicant meets all minimum requirements for admission, is an admission guaranteed?
No. Please see the following text about the “Process used to offer Admission and Financial support”.
Does one need to apply for a research assistantship when applying for admission?
No. All applicants who are candidates for admission are automatically considered for a research assistantship, which is our primary source of offering financial support.
Does an admission into the program mean that financial support will be available?
No. Admission and financial support do not always go together. It is possible to be admitted into our program without any financial support from us.
If one is admitted without financial support, is it possible that support may be offered at a later time?
It is possible but not guaranteed. Admitted students should contact their prospective advisors to obtain further information about this question.
Can we provide an assessment of the chances of securing admission and financial support?
It is difficult to provide assessment of chances of securing admission with or without financial assistance in our program because of the way our admission process works. See the section below for more information.
Process used to offer Admission and financial support:
Each and every incoming student has to have at least one faculty member who is willing to serve as an advisor for that student. If no faculty member agrees to advise a particular applicant, either because they have no openings, or there is not a good match between the applicants’s background and the faculty member’s research or if the applicant does not have competitive academic background and scores, the applicant is not offered admission. Therefore, we often refuse admission to several very good students because there is no faculty member who has an opening for them in their group. Regarding financial assistance, please note that we are a graduate degree granting program. Therefore, we do not have teaching assistantships that we can offer, almost all support is offered as research assistantships. Decisions regarding research assistantships are made by individual faculty members who use their research funds to support students. It is difficult, therefore, to provide assessment regarding admission and financial assistance as these decisions are made by individual faculty members based on their evaluation of an application. The range of GPA’s and GRE scores of students who are admitted into the program varies a bit, primarily because we consider all aspects of an application in making a decision rather than just these two scores. However, admission into our program is competitive and we select only those with excellent academic background.
What is required to complete an application?
Please visit the Graduate School web site, for details about the application process. The Graduate School requires an application and fee, official transcripts, official GRE scores, and official TOEFL scores.
In addition, we require a statement of purpose describing your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate education in Biomedical Engineering, and letters of recommendations from three (3) faculty members who are familiar with your academic record. We prefer that the letters be from faculty who are in the applicant’s academic area, however, letters from professionals in industry or other fields who can comment on your professional accomplishments and potential as a graduate student and researcher will be acceptable. We do not have a specific form or particular format for these letters, but the letters should comment on an applicant’s past accomplishments and potential as a graduate student and researcher. The statement and letters should be sent to:
Director of Graduate Studies
Center for Biomedical Engineering
Wenner-Gren Research Laboratory
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506-0070
Or via e-mail to email@example.com
In your statement of purpose, please also indicate which area(s) of biomedical engineering interests you most and therefore is/are the area(s) you would like to pursue your graduate studies in. You may refer to our website at http://www.cbme.uky.edu/people/ to determine the areas of research of our current faculty. We will use information about your areas of interests in determining which faculty would review your application.