Hidden heroes

From understanding unmet healthcare needs to designing novel devices, biomedical engineering offers a plethora of opportunities

Published - December 16, 2020 02:02 pm IST



Biomedical engineers are the “hidden heroes” in the fight against COVID-19.They are behind the design and development of ventilators, BiPAP monitors, drug delivery devices, advanced medical imaging and more. Master’s programmes abroad cover a wide umbrella of speciality and sub-specialty tracks. This makes it important for you to take your time, and do your research before applying.

Choosing the right programme

The type of programme and specialisation helps determine one’s career path. Narrow down the choice based on your interest, the programme strength, industry affiliations, location, and funding. Those interested in programming and statistical analysis should consider Data Science or Bioinformatics. For those with a yen for engineering drawing, engineering design, or fluid mechanics, then Biomechanics may be of interest.

In the U.S., Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Michigan Ann Arbor offer highly ranked programmes. However there are the lower-ranked but strong engineering-focused universities located near large industry hubs (New York, New Jersey, San Diego, Bay Area), which have strong partnerships with local industries and vast alumni networks, thus offering opportunities for job placements. Experienced counsellors can help students navigate the complex university shortlisting process.

Career options

Graduates have several options in the $400 billion global medical device industry (PWC) and the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry.

Product development: Biomedical Engineers play a key role in the above industries as product development/design engineers responsible for designing and bringing new medical devices to market in a safe manner. They understand unmet healthcare needs and design novel devices to meet these needs.

Product management: Product managers understand the pulse of customers, product life-cycles, market trends and play a key role in product launches. They lead cross-functional teams to meet customer requirements and often have P&L responsibility for their product lines.

Quality and reliability engineering: Quality engineers evaluate the safety of commercialised products by the requirements of the relevant regulatory body in countries. For example, in the U.S. the FDA governs all medical devices and drugs. Quality engineers conduct detailed risk assessments of new designs and processes and analyse data to improve the performance of existing methods.

Bioinformatics/Data Science: With data becoming increasingly important, Bioinformatics specialists are highly valued in MedTech, pharma, hospital networks, and medical insurance companies. These industries analyse data for clinical studies for patient selection and therapy pathway decisions, drug discovery and research, and Analysis of clinical and patient flow pathways and monitoring health outcomes.

In the post-COVID world, biomedical Engineers will play a key role in improving healthcare outcomes. and choosing the right programme and specialisation will help students take advantage of the opportunities available.

The writer is Founder, Galvanize Test Prep

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