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SOLVE IMPORTANT CHALLENGES IN MEDICINE AND LIFE SCIENCES FOR THE BENEFIT OF HUMANITY

Biomedical Engineering (BME)

bi·o·me·di·cal en·gi·neer·ing

The application of the life sciences and engineering principles to bridge the gap between medical technology and medicine in practice.

Also Known As: Medical Imaging Engineer, Clinical Engineer, Certified Prosthetist, Orthopedic Designer, Medical Researcher, Doctor, Bioelectrical Engineer, +10,000 more

A fushia laser is shot on a glass slide with blood that is coated with magnetic beads to reveal protein concentration.

WHY BME AT MICHIGAN?

  • No. 6

    US News and World Report

  • 50.3%

    Female (Winter 2019)

  • 30

    core faculty

  • 95

    affiliated faculty across the University, including Medical School Kinesiology, MechE, ChE, EECS

  • Top 10

    Engineering, Medical, and Business School on the same campus

University of Michigan Hospital: We are the only joint department at Michigan sitting between Michigan Medicine and Michigan Engineering. So, students have plentiful opportunities to work within the hospital.

A lime green gloved hand flexes fingers balancing a small computing system with various colored wires

What do Biomedical Engineers do?

We are at the bleeding edge of medical technology. We advance diagnostics, analysis of medical conditions, treatment, and recovery – all to improve patient care. Using computers, we develop biological modeling techniques that allow us access to the inner workings of the human body like never before- experiments on chips, virtual reality surgery, and more efficient methods of drug delivery.

ACADEMIC CONCENTRATIONS

  • Biochemical

    Study the fundamental properties of the cell to understand how to best treat disease and illness. Use tissue engineering to replace those who have lost functionality or to develop medicine; improve biomaterials to make more durable and less susceptible to rejection for body and dental implants; and build new medicines from the atomic level up.

    Courses: Bioreaction Engineering & Design, Tissue Engineering, Biomembranes: Transport, Signaling, & Disease

  • Bioelectrical

    Be a part of the newest in medicine: electroceuticals. Build the electronics that reside within a sick patient, from pacemakers to deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s disease. Improve diagnostic techniques and speed pathology testing by developing lab on a chip or diagnostics on a chip.

    Courses: Electrical Biophysics, Engineering Principles of Radiation Imaging, Radiological Health Imaging, Medical Imaging Systems

  • Biomechanical

    Design surgical devices to last longer by understanding the forces it will undergo while being used, whether inside or outside of the body. Understand all of the natural sciences- physics, chemistry, and biology- and how they build upon one another and intertwine to explain and define the world around us, then apply that knowledge to build medical devices that will save lives.

    Courses: Biomechanics, Biofluid Mechanics, Biosolid Mechanics, Neuromechanics

  • Concentrations in BME are mandatory to declare and will be indicated on your transcript.

Concentrations in BME are mandatory to declare and will be indicated on your transcript.

Graduate receiving hood during ceremony

Sequential Undergraduate/Graduate Studies Program (SUGS)

Complete your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only five years with SUGS by taking some graduate-level classes during your undergraduate years, so you can save yourself one semester and complete the masters with only two additional semesters.

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Sample Course List

First-Year

First-Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus I (Math 115)
    • CoE Core Engineering 100
    • CoE Core Chemistry (130)
    • Major Requirement Biology 172
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus II (Math 116)
    • CoE Core Engineering 101
    • Major Requirement Structure & Reactivity I (Chemistry 210)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus III (Math 215)
    • CoE Core Physics (140 and 141)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
    • Major Requirement Principles of Engineering Materials (MATSCIE 250)
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Differential Equations (Math 216)
    • CoE Core Physics (240 and 241)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
    • Major Requirement Biomechanics (BIOMEDE 231)

Junior Year

Junior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Circuits & Systems for Biomedical Engineers (BIOMEDE 211)
    • Major Requirement Biophysical Chemistry & Thermodynamics (BIOMEDE 221)
    • Major Requirement 300 Level Humanities
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Biomedical Design (BIOMEDE 350)
    • Major Requirement Quantitative Cell Biology (BIOMEDE 418)
    • Major Requirement Biomedical Undergraduate Lab (BIOMEDE 241)
    • Major Requirement Concentration Requirement

Senior Year

Senior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Quantitative Physiology (BIOMEDE 419)
    • Major Requirement Biomedical Design (BIOMEDE 451)
    • Major Requirement Biomedical Instrumentation & Design (BIOMEDE 458)
    • Major Requirement Concentration Requirement
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Biomedical Design (BIOMEDE 452)
    • Major Requirement Concentration Requirement
    • Major Requirement Concentration Requirement
    • Elective General Elective
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Individualized schedules will be made by students in consultation with an advisor who will tailor their classes to better fit the student's needs.

Practice Your Purpose

Apply the skills you are learning in class to the real world.

Student Design Teams

M-Heal members gather around the rock painted with the M-Heal emblem.
M-HEAL - Michigan Health Engineered for All Lives
The word MedLaunch with a cartoon-style backdrop of space with planets and a spaceship with a red cross.
MedLaunch
A purple egg with an S on it next to the words “Sling Health: Launching Medical Technology Entrepreneurs”
Sling Health

Professional Development

A maize and blue human heart with gears in the center
BMES - Biomedical Engineering Society
Students wearing biophysics shirts gather and smile for a picture
Biophysics Club
Two concentric circles with 𝜇FO written in the middle and "Microfluidics in Biomedical Sciences" written around the outside
𝜇FO - Microfluidics in Biomedical Sciences
A caduceus symbol (2 snakes wrapped around a rod with a pair of wings) with a gear at the bottom and a wreath around it
Beta Mu Epsilon - Biomedical Engineering Professional Fraternity
Barry Belmont, a young lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at U-M. He is smirking and wearing glasses
Bioethics Discussion Group - Barry Belmont

Research

Ariella Shikanov headshot
Ariella Shikanov - Recovering Reproduction in Girls Who Survive Childhood Cancer
READ MORE
Sriram Chandrasekaran headshot
Sriram Chandrasekaran - A ‘Decathlon’ for Antibiotics
READ MORE
Brendon Baker headshot
Brendon Baker - Micro Nano Technology & Molecular Engineering
READ MORE
Cindy Chestek headshot
Cynthia Chestik - Cortical Neural Prosthetics Lab
READ MORE
Zhen Xu headshot
Zhen Xu - Using Ultrasound as a Non-Invasive Therapy Tool
READ MORE
Aileen Huang-Saad Headshot
Aileen Huang-Saad - Transforming Engineering Education Co-Laboratory
READ MORE
Lonnie Shea headshot
Lonnie Shea - Regenerative Medicine, Biomaterials, & Gene and Drug Delivery
READ MORE

Alumni Biographies

Each of these alumni are real people who were once in your shoes, deciding a major. Explore their path and how a Michigan education set their life in motion.

  • Bill Lloyd headshot
    • Bill Lloyd
    • Terumo Heart Inc.
  • Heidi Nielsen headshot
    • Heidi Nielsen
    • MI Bioresearch in Ann Arbor
  • Jeffrey Meng headshot
    • Jeffrey Meng
    • U.S. Public Health Service / U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Kristen Wolff headshot
    • Kristen Wolff
    • University of Michigan
  • Mitchell Johnson headshot
    • Mitchell Johnson
    • University of Pennsylvania
  • Sahar Rahmani headshot
    • Sahar Rahmani
    • Harvard University
  • Sakib Elahi headshot
    • Sakib Elahi
    • Becton Dickinson (BD)
  • Scott Merz headshot
    • Scott Merz
    • MC3 Cardiopulmonary
Bill Lloyd headshot

    Bill Lloyd

    Terumo Heart Inc.

Heidi Nielsen headshot

    Heidi Nielsen

    MI Bioresearch in Ann Arbor

Jeffrey Meng headshot

    Jeffrey Meng

    U.S. Public Health Service / U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Kristen Wolff headshot

    Kristen Wolff

    University of Michigan

Mitchell Johnson headshot

    Mitchell Johnson

    University of Pennsylvania

Sahar Rahmani headshot

    Sahar Rahmani

    Harvard University

Sakib Elahi headshot

    Sakib Elahi

    Becton Dickinson (BD)

Scott Merz headshot

    Scott Merz

    MC3 Cardiopulmonary

Not sure what major to choose?

Tap in to our network of 85k+ engineering alumni. Do you have questions you’d like answered? Our alumni are always eager to talk about engineering.

Please email engin-alumni@umich.edu for more information.

SPEAK TO AN ALUM
A man holds a pale blue plastic chips with a white opaque insert with a tiny black barcode on it

Industries & Occupations

  • Medical Device Manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Computation and Modeling
  • Electronic/computer products industry
  • Federal Government
  • Scientific Research
  • Business Management
  • Medicine
  • Neural Engineering
  • Imaging and Biophotonics
  • Prosthetics Design and Development
A black and white microscope image of small squares filled with tiny geometrical particles

Companies

  • Stryker
  • Bio-Rad
  • Boston Scientific
  • Johnson&Johnson
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • Merch & Co., Inc.
  • National Institute of Health
  • Pfizer Corporation
  • Procter & gamble
  • Eli Lilly
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • GE Healthcare
  • Siemens
  • NeuroNexus Technologies

Find salary information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics

$64,686- U-M Biomedical Engineering graduates average starting salaries (ECRC 2017-2018 Annual Report)

LEARN MORE

LEARN MORE

Bill Lloyd headshot

Bill Lloyd

  • Terumo Heart Inc.
  • Senior Engineer II

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2005
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2010
University of Michigan, PhD Biomedical Engineering, 2013
Career Summary

During my PhD, I worked with CRLT-Engin and at the Business School. After graduating with my PhD, I pursued three difference interests – my scientific interests with a post-doc position in the Department of Chemistry, my teaching interests through an Instructional Consultant position at CRLT-Engin, and my coaching interests through a position at the Innovatrium. Through working on diversified projects and multi-disciplinary teams, I found avenues to pursue many of my interests professionally. It helped me understand what skills I had developed during my academic career and forced me to figure out what unique skills I had. Above all else, I found that I love problem-solving in any incarnation. After several years post-graduation at UM, I decided to pursue an industry position in medical device design. I purposefully selected a small company that would function more like a start up, enabling me to diversify my skills while experiencing numerous phases of the design process, from requirement development through validation.

Advice to Students

My advice to students is to think proactively. As you prepare for your next step in life, consider your competencies on a graph. You will have a range of competencies, from below average, to average, to above average. Understanding this spectrum is the first step, because it will help you hone in on your unique abilities. The next step is to set a plan for improvement. Progress forward is often defined as eliminating your weaknesses or doubling down on your strengths. I think finding the middle is better. If the goal is to make forward progress, consider your skills like an inchworm. Find your strengths, identify how to improve, and move the head of the inchworm forward. Find your weaknesses, identify how to improve, and move the tail of the inchworm forward. By repeating this process, your inchworm is always moving forward. If you are pursuing a job, identify the skills that you possess that will immediately help the employer. When contacting the hiring manager, clearly state what you can help with and how you will do it. If possible, use projects you’ve completed to demonstrate those skills.

Heidi Nielsen headshot

Heidi Nielsen

  • MI Bioresearch in Ann Arbor
  • Director of Operations

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2007
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2008
Wayne State University, MBA, 2011
Career Summary

I’m the Director of Operations for a fast-growing contract research partner in oncology, located here in Lansing. I have the pleasure of working with scientists on figuring out ways to efficiently conduct our client’s oncology research with precision and quality. My biomedical engineering education has given me the analytical tools and knowledge to work in a fast-paced and interesting environment. I’ve also had the opportunity to work as a process engineer and manager at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and develop new processes for phase II/III clinical human stem cell therapies.

What excites you about your career?

Working with a diverse group of people to solve challenging problems in the pursuit of improving healthcare and protect human life

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I love the campus and all of the team-based projects. The degree coursework was interesting and challenging. The analytical techniques and ways of problem solving are directly applicable to the real world. The U of M culture is so warm and exciting.

Favorite Events

UofM football and hockey games, tailgating

Favorite Student Orgs

Phi Sigma Rho sorority, BME Society

Favorite Classes

Senior capstone course in BME

Advice for students

Enjoy your time in college, work hard and play hard. Working full time is nice but not nearly as fun at being in college, so be sure to reflect and have fun.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Camp, go hiking, play soccer and frisbee golf, read

Jeffrey Meng headshot

Jeffrey Meng

  • U.S. Public Health Service / U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Director of Investigations Branch

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2007
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2008
Career Summary

I have spent the last 10 years working for the US FDA in various field operations related capacities as a Drug Specialist Investigator, Supervisory Investigator, and now Director of Investigations Branch. As the Director of Investigations Branch for the Division of Pharmaceutical Quality Operations III within the Office of Regulatory Affairs for FDA, I am responsible for all pharmaceutical operations within the US Midwest which typically consists of manufacturing facility inspections, investigations, and sample collections. My branch currently consists of nearly 40 investigators, supervisory investigators, and support staff who perform these operations.

My most memorable experiences were those as a Drug Specialist Investigator for FDA. Highlights of these include a short rotation stationed at the FDA China Office out of Shanghai, China, providing courtroom testimony to support a pharmaceutical facility shutdown, and leading a facility inspection that resulted in public health protections that included a judicial consent decree of permanent injunction entered against the facility and recalls of drug products distributed to 15 different countries.

What excites you about your career?

I am passionate about the work we do every day at the FDA to provide safe and effective medicines for the American consumer and protect the public health.

Have you received any awards?

The FDA and the US PHS have recognized my professional contributions with several awards. Examples include an FDA Outstanding Service Award in 2014, a USPHS Meritorious Service Medal in 2018, and multiple group awards throughout the years.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I loved the campus atmosphere and opportunities for exposure to a variety of experiences. Go Blue! I don’t have any strong memories of my time at U of M that I didn’t like.

Favorite Classes

My senior and graduate innovative design courses through the BME department. These courses forced us students to apply our engineering background and knowledge to technical problems, communicate effectively with relevant stakeholders, and present tangible proposals, mimicking professional career experiences.

Advice for Students

Be open to what the future might bring. When some doors close, other opportunities may present themselves that were even better than imagined. I had always though I would either enter industry as an engineer or perhaps medical school, but I am thrilled with the events that did not seem ideal at the time, but lead me to working at the FDA and for the US Public Health Service.

What do you like to do outside of work?

With two young kids under the age of 3, I enjoy spending my time outside work playing with them and watching them grow.

Kristen Wolff headshot

Kristen Wolff

  • University of Michigan
  • Assoc. Director of Licensing, Tech Transfer

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2007
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2008
Duke University School of Law
LSAT, GRE, California Bar Exam, Patent Bar Exam
Career Summary

I currently work to help protect and commercialize biomedical technologies developed by researchers and clinicians at the University. When a new invention is created, I assess its market potential and patentability, craft patent strategy, market the technology to potential commercialization partners, and connect inventors with commercialization resources. When the right industry partner is identified, I draft and negotiate contracts to enable commercial development of the technology.

I worked for 6 years as a patent attorney and consultant, managing the IP portfolios of medical device and digital health companies. During that time, I lived in San Diego, the Bay Area, and Seattle. I started my career as a patent attorney at Knobbe Martens, an IP boutique law firm. I then moved to Foley & Lardner, an international law firm with over 1,000 attorneys, before joining two other University of Michigan alumnae leading a startup IP consulting firm.

Career Timeline
  • University of Michigan
  • Aurora Consulting LLC
  • Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
  • Duke Start-Up Ventures Clinic
  • United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  • Institute for Justice
  • Altarum
What excites you about your career?

Working with some of the leading researchers in the world is a real privilege. I have the opportunity to continuously learn about brand new technologies, before they are even published. Many of the technologies in my portfolio are truly revolutionary, for example, showing promise in eliminating tumors non-invasively, repairing injured spinal cords, and minimizing brain damage following strokes. The life-changing potential of these technologies keeps me motivated to help move them out of the lab and into clinics and the marketplace.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

So many things to like: Freshman year Welcome Week–Everyone was new and looking for friends and classes hadn’t started yet, so people were particularly welcoming and fun. Dorm living sophomore year–As sophomores, we got to choose our rooms, so many of my friends and I lived on the same floor. There were lots of innocent pranks and late-night conversations. Also: playing intramural sports (especially inner tube water polo!), exercising in the Rec Center, and running on the wooded trails of the Arb. Dislikes: Exams–they might be necessary, but they’re never fun. Studying for them outside on the Diag on sunny April days made them a little better.

Favorite Student Orgs

Forming M-HEAL with my friends and competing on the U-M Mock Trial team

Advice for Students

Get to know your professors–they’re really interesting people. Attend office hours and ask them about their research and lives.

Mitchell Johnson headshot

Mitchell Johnson

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Medical Student

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2017
Career Summary

So even though I am not working as an engineer, my experience studying engineer helped me learn what I wanted to do. I cam into university thinking I wanted to work as an engineer, but after working over a summer as an engineering intern I decided that I wanted to take my career in a different direction. This lead me to the field of medicine where I want to combine engineering problem solving abilities with real world interactions with people. I worked on several biomedical engineering projects in medical school and all of them ultimately made me realize that I wanted to work more closely with patients and be able to see the impact of my work in person.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I got involved in research early on in my undergrad and I think it is a super valuable thing to do, especially if you are interesting in medical/graduate school. Also it allowed me to make meaningful connections with professors. Also, feel confident in your ability to do things outside of engineering such as medical school if that is what you are interested in.

Sahar Rahmani headshot

Sahar Rahmani

  • Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2010
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2011
University of Michigan, BSE Biomedical Engineering, 2015
Career Summary

I started doing research when I was a freshman at UM through the UROP project and continued in the lab I was in through my second year. During my third year, I received the Sarah Maria Parker fellowship and worked in a lab that worked on developing multi-functional nanoparticles for drug delivery applications. I fell in love with the research and lab and decided to stay for my PhD. I was originally a pre-med student, but I really liked research and teaching and decided to become a faculty member. As a next step in my career path, I am currently a post doctoral fellow at Harvard doing research in regenerative medicine, immunology, and tissue engineering.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I loved the variety of organization/groups that were available at Michigan; you are bound to find one you like. And, in the rare case that you don’t, or if you have a new idea, you can always make your own group. I also liked how open and understanding the administration was in the Engineering school and how willing they were to listen.

Favorite Student Orgs

I was part of the USAB (Undergraduate Student Advisory Board) in UM Engineering and I was always amazed at how much they valued our thoughts and suggestions and that they actually did something about them.

Sakib Elahi headshot

Sakib Elahi

  • Becton Dickinson (BD)
  • Senior Engineer

University of Michigan, BSE Mechanical Engineering, 2006
University of Michigan, MSE Biomedical Engineering, 2008
University of Michigan, PhD Biomedical Engineering, 2014
Career Summary

After completing my PhD at U-M, I built on my expertise in Biomedical Optics, which was the topic of my thesis. I took a postdoctoral research position at Texas A&M in a lab that was developing noninvasive glucose sensing technology. These fully implantable sensors sat 5 mm below the skin, and I was developing a wearable detector (like a wristband) that could read the signal from the sensor. Continuous glucose monitoring without the need for a finger-prick blood measurement could greatly improve the lifestyle of diabetic patients, and alert them of sudden drops or spikes in blood sugar. Our research group collaborated with a start-up company that was working on commercializing the technology. This exposure taught me more about the business-aspects of medical technology development.

After 2 years at Texas A&M, I accepted a position at the large medical technology company Becton Dickinson (BD). I continued working in the Diabetes field in my first role at BD, which was in Durham, North Carolina. Type 1 diabetics often wear catheters that continuously infuse insulin in their abdomen. I was working on reducing the inflammation that was incited by these insulin infusion sets, which would allow them to be worn longer before changing the catheter. Working in a large company taught me a different work culture. This was faster-paced, and I had more resources at my disposal. Rather than executing the scientific work myself, I was planning experiments and generating new ideas, and collaborating with smaller companies and universities to conduct the work.

I then moved to another role in BD, this time located in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Now I was doing project management for the development of a new kind of catheter. This catheter is to be implanted in late-stage cancer patients to drain the pleural fluid that builds up around their lungs.Leading a project whose objective was to launch a product required me to develop new skillsets. I had members on my team from non-engineering functions: regulatory, marketing, medical affairs.I also had to work with non-research functions like manufacturing and quality.I needed to develop business savvy, learning to think about the non-technical challenges that are required to commercialize products.I greatly enjoy being a leader in New Product Development teams, and looking ahead, I hope to continue to grow as a leader in medical technology development.

Career Timeline
  • Texas A&M
  • Becton Dickinson (BD)
Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I was happy to do a BSE in Mechanical Engineering, which taught me very good fundamental engineering skills. It’s a very versatile major. Doing a MSE and PhD in Biomedical Engineering helped me specialize, and I see the power of Biomedical Engineering being that it enables you to contribute creatively in highly interdisciplinary environments. You can sit in a meeting with engineers, scientists and clinicians and bridge the discussion among all of them.

Favorite Class

The most valuable class I ever took was ME 395, the junior-year lab class. It was very tough, but the technical communication skills it taught me are what helped me stand out throughout my career.

Favorite Student Orgs

I was highly involved in student organizations throughout undergrad and grad school, and this was hugely impactful in my life. I met the girl who went on to become my wife in Ingenieros. I developed leadership skills through Epeians and Engineering Student Council, sometimes the hard way through mistakes, but better to make those mistakes in school than later. I built strong networks that aid me to this day, and have many continuing friendships through them.

Scott Merz headshot

Scott Merz

  • MC3 Cardiopulmonary
  • President & CEO

Duke University, BSE Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, 1987
University of Michigan, MS Biomedical Engineering, 1989
University of Michigan, PhD Biomedical Engineering, 1993
Career Timeline
  • MC3 Cardiopulmonary
  • TruEnamel
  • Vasoptic Medical, Inc.
  • Exatherm, Inc.
  • Seraph Biosciences, Inc
  • Michigan Critical Care Consultants, Inc
  • Millipede, Inc
  • Accord Biomaterials, Inc
  • Novalung GmbH
What excites you about your career?

Contributing to the medical field; collaborating with healthcare workers

Major Career Highlights

Started and sold three med device spinoff companies

Awards

UM Alumni Merit Award for BME; 2014

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

Likes: Diversity of Research
Favorite class: BME Instrumentation

Advice for Students

Visit businesses as much as possible; seek internships

What do you like to do outside of work?

Music, outdoor sports, reading