Explore Biomedical Engineering

By combining biology and medicine with engineering principles and practices, biomedical engineers develop devices and procedures that solve medical and health-related problems. Many biomedical engineers do research, along with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists, to develop and evaluate systems and products such as artificial organs, prostheses (artificial devices that replace missing body parts), instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. Biomedical engineers also design devices used in various medical procedures, such as the cardiac pacemaker, computers used to analyze blood, laser systems used in corrective eye surgery, and imaging systems such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They develop artificial organs, imaging systems such as ultrasound, and devices for automating insulin injections or controlling body functions. Some specialty areas include:

  • Bioinstrumentation: Application of electronics and measurement techniques to develop medical devices.
  • Biomaterials: Understanding of materials for placement in the human body.
  • Biomechanics: Study of motion and flow within the body and devices.
  • Cellular, tissue, and genetic engineering: Development of devices to attack biomedical problems on the microscopic level.
  • Clinical engineering: Intersection of technology and healthcare.
  • Medical imaging: Electronic data processing and analysis to display medical images in non-invasive ways.

*Salary and Career Outcomes gathered from the 2018-2019 CSE Graduation Survey. Post-graduation outcomes reflect the percentage of students who were employed full-time in their field or were enrolled in a graduate program at 6 months post-graduation.

BME Career Prospects. Average Starting Salary: $67,353; Post-Graduation Outcomes: Employed 59.7%, Graduate School 34.7%, Other 5.6%

Expand all

What can I do with a major in Biomedical Engineering?

INDUSTRIES

  • Bio-Instrumentation
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics
  • Biotechnology
  • Diagnostics
  • Healthcare
  • Institutes
  • Invasive Devices
  • Laboratories
  • Medical Imaging
  • Medical software companies
  • Orthopedics
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Tissue and cellular Engineering
  • Universities

EMPLOYERS

  • Abbott
  • Accenture
  • American Medical Systems
  • AUM Cardiovascular
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Boston Scientific
  • Edwards Lifesciences
  • Epic Systems
  • InSitu Technologies
  • Medtronic
  • Minneapolis VA Healthcare System
  • Minnetronix
  • Miromatrix Medical
  • Smiths Medical
  • Vascular Solutions
  • Ximedica
  • Zimmer Spine
  • Zurich Medical

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • Arduino
  • AutoCAD
  • Excel
  • Labview
  • Mathematica
  • MATLAB
  • Microsoft Office
  • MTS Electromechanical Testing System
  • Solidworks

POSSIBLE POSITIONS

  • Biomechanical engineer: Develops mechanical devices such as the artificial hip, heart, and kidney.
  • Manufacturing engineer: Ensures that medical devices are manufactured in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
  • Medical device designer: Uses technology and research to design new medical devices.
  • Prosthesis designer: Designs, creates, and fits prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs for patients who have lost limbs or hands.
  • Quality engineer: Ensures that medical devices meet FDA standards for safety and efficacy.
  • Rehabilitation engineer: Designs, develops, adapts, tests, evaluates, applies, and distributes technological solutions to problems confronted by individuals with disabilities.
  • Research and development engineer: Develops new products and improves existing products for groundbreaking medical device equipment.
  • Field clinical representative: Uses technical expertise to sell products, write technical support documents, and interface between sales staff and design engineers (works directly with scientists, doctors, and engineers).
  • Regulatory affairs specialist: Coordinate and document internal regulatory processes, such as internal audits, inspections, license renewals, or registrations. Prepare submissions and obtain approval for products and therapies to markets worldwide.
  • Product development engineer: Design, develop, and test processes for producing prototype and long-term production of products.

**Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.

GET INVOLVED

  • Biomedical Engineering Society
  • CSE K-12 Outreach
  • CSE Ambassadors
  • CSE International Ambassadors
  • Engineering World Health
  • National Society of Black Engineers
  • Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • Solar Vehicle Project
  • Synthetic Biology Society

Q&A with Katie Batman, R&D Engineer I, Abbott Laboratories

What do you do?

I support and lead continuous improvement projects related to cardiac electrophysiology catheters and technology.

What's a typical work day?

The Research and Development (R&D) Continuous Improvement Group acts as a service to many cross-functional groups. At any given time, I support two to four medical device families. Therefore, I don’t always know what I will work on from one week to the next. I review many protocols, reports, and other documents requested by the cross-functional teams. I investigate device returns and organize studies to determine if there is a design-related failure. I support electrical, mechanical, and material testing required by regulatory bodies and internal specifications.

What qualities are important for this position?

For this role, it is important to be an achiever, learn quickly, think critically, and work well independently as well as in a group.

What about technical skills?

Every few of weeks, I will use core physiology or engineering calculations and concepts. For example, if we have device returns for electrical opens or intermittent signals, I am able to quickly review academic papers or textbooks to refresh those concepts and brainstorm possible causes. At work, statistics are a lot more important than most other subjects. Electrics, mechanics, and physiology are the next three big contenders.

What training were you offered for your position?

A lot of the training for my role occurs on the job. My coworkers offer direction on novel projects. There are also one-day to one-week training sessions available specific to root-cause problem solving, statistics, decision making, and cardiac physiology to name a few.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

I love medical device investigations and root cause analysis. It is exciting to brainstorm the possible causes of a reoccurring problem and go through the scientific method of testing those possible causes. If the end result proves to be manufacturing or design related, we may implement the changes.

Most challenging?

Because I work with many different groups and support a few different devices, I often work on unfamiliar projects. The learning curve is sometimes steep. So I have been learning how to use my resources wisely and ask a sufficient number of questions to I understand the scenario well enough to make informed decisions.

What are your possible career paths now?

I could go many directions. Since my role interacts cross-functionally, I get the chance to experience many other types of roles. I see the product cycle from start to finish. With that exposure, I believe I would be able to pursue a variety of other roles: manufacturing engineer, product development, quality engineer, regulatory, or development quality. Additionally, opportunities for promotion are very reasonable in my current position.

Advice for current students?

Dive into opportunities that you have at the University of Minnesota. My past education and experiences at the U have been instrumental in my understanding of design concerns that have surfaced.

As a whole, the undergraduate Biomedical Engineering program taught me to maximize my time and learn how to strategically ask questions. Professor Tranquillo taught me to adequately simplify a transport physiological scenario so you are able to make calculated estimates. Professor Akkin helped lay foundations in electrophysiology that is now the department I work in at Abbott. Finally, Dr. Iaizzo and the Visible Heart Lab connected so many areas of cardiac anatomy and physiology. I loved seeing his rapid innovation.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

I am a mentor through the College of Science and Engineering, and I never realized it was a resource while I was an undergrad student. I recommend connecting with a mentor, since it’s a great opportunity to meet someone in a field of work you may have interest. If you ask questions, you will get authentic feedback and may know whether that type of job is right for you.

An even bigger piece of advice: Find ways that you can invest your time and energy in the people around you. Study together, support each other, and ask critical questions both about your coursework and about bigger questions.

Q&A with Jessica Rose, Operations Project Manager, Abbott Laboratories

What do you do?

I manage process improvement, cost reduction, and compliance projects.

What's a typical work day?

I scope, plan, execute, and close out projects. I also meet regularly with cross-functional teams to provide work direction and track progress. Plus, I communicate status to stakeholders.

What qualities are important for this position?

Good communication, organized, positive attitude, and being adaptable.

What about technical skills?

Critical thinking and problem solving.

What training were you offered for your position?

Project management, finance, influential communication, and strategic thinking.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

The most satisfying part of my job is knowing that the products we deliver to customers save lives.

Most challenging?

Working with teams who have conflicting goals and prioritizing work based on risks or benefits and business need.

What are your possible career paths now?

I could transition into an operations management position, manage development projects, and manage performance improvement projects in the healthcare industry.

Advice for current students?

Take business or finance classes as extracurricular courses to understand how to run a business.

Q&A with Claire Carlson, Medical Student, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine

What do you do?

I’m a graduate student, in my fourth year of medicine in New York City.

What's a typical work day?

Right now, I am finishing up my last clinical rotations before I apply for residency. In your third and fourth year of medical school, you traditionally spend clinical time in most major specialties, and then are given the opportunity for ample elective time in the specialty of your choice. You act as a junior member of the medical team, see and treat patients and help work through a treatment plan with the physicians who teach and oversee you.

As you move into fourth year, the expectations are raised and you are able to take on more responsibility to prepare you to be a resident doctor, which for me has been the best part. Patients are ultimately the best teachers.

What qualities are important for this position?

No. 1 is kindness, emotional maturity, empathy, humility, and confidence in your abilities.

What about technical skills?

Critical thinking beyond what the textbook says will make you stand out, especially when you are presented with a challenging case to work through. If you concretely understand the normal pathophysiology (how the system works), you can then understand the abnormal disease. Medicine is extremely device heavy, especially now, and knowledge of how medical devices operate from my undergraduate degree has helped me immensely in my clinical years.

What training were you offered for your position?

Training is long, but it is a privilege and worth it. Four years of graduate medical school after my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering, then 3-8 years of residency and fellowship training depending on the specialty you choose.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

When you are able to directly watch your training make a concrete difference in someone’s life.

Most challenging?

The amount of responsibility you know you will eventually have as a doctor for other people’s lives and families is daunting and very challenging. However, it makes you train that much harder to be your best even when you’re tired and haven’t eaten in 16 hours.

What are your possible career paths now?

The possibilities are infinite in my opinion. A medical degree doesn’t have to mean direct patient care100 percent of the time, especially if you come from an engineering background. You can pursue academic research, clinical device development, consulting, leadership, etc. As long as you work hard and put the time in, you can tailor your medical career to accomplish whatever you choose.

Advice for current students?

I ended up switching to Biomedical Engineering at the end of my freshman year at the University of Minnesota, and it was the smartest decision I made. It is a very challenging major. You need to be prepared to think and solve problems for yourself. There oftentimes won’t be an answer to a problem that is ‘right’ or ‘correct,’ only the solution you proposed. It’s awesome.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

Take the focus off your letter grades and direct it to working through the learning in front of you. The scores will likely follow, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Q&A with Vida Dam, Consultant, Accenture

What do you do?

I collaboratively help businesses identify, adapt, innovate, and evolve with technology. Within my company and individual team, I lead, support, and develop team members.

What's a typical work day?

Every day is different, but usually I work with amazing people to understand our progress and refine tasks to reach our overall goals.

What qualities are important for this position?

Adaptable, curious, organized, and logical are important qualities.

What about technical skills?

A coding background or understanding is important; so is knowledge of big data and analytics.

What training were you offered for your position?

Accenture invests a vast amount in training and learning. With ongoing training, I have learned both functional business skills as well as technical skills and applications for my role.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

Working with amazing people to bring concepts and ideas to life.

Most challenging?

Working with different businesses that may not be willing to collaborate.

What are your possible career paths now?

I can continue to develop my technical, functional ,or sales skills as I continue my career, but that really depends on what I want to do—and I feel that Accenture will support me on where I want to go personally and professionally.

Advice for current students?

A major doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do that for a living. It means you are passionate about that subject and should find something in the work world that you are passionate about. Biomedical engineering opens a lot of doors for the medical industry, research and academics, as well as applying your medical and problem-solving skills from engineering in a business role.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

Be yourself, keep exploring, and discover personally what you like and dislike so you can advocate for your career journey. Use that mold as a foundation, and don’t be afraid to change and build on the foundation so it is unique to you.

Q&A with Megan Snyder, Technology Consultant, Accenture

What do you do?

I’m involved in technical architecture, code review and deployment, business analysis, technical design, smart grid architecture, database and server administration, and agile project management.

What's a typical work day?

I travel to the client site—Monday to Thursday, I’m out of state. I check in with the scrum teams on any issues, attend team standup and get to work on daily user stories involving environment builds, break-fix investigation, server or database installations or cloning, and general system maintenance and support.

What qualities are important for this position?

You must be a self starter, interested in the intersection of business and technology, and good at being a translator between offshore technical developers and onsite business professionals. You must also be a quick learner with an interest in quickly becoming an expert in a new system and representing Accenture on the client site.

What about technical skills?

SQL, java development, Linux administration, code management practices and standards.

What training were you offered for your position?

Two weeks of initial software development lifecycle training in person with other entry level recruits, then a weeklong trip each year thereafter. The company also has a wealth of online training courses internally that you can access at any time!

What part of your job is most satisfying?

Becoming an integral part of the client team and success of the project. You get a lot of autonomy as a starting analyst that is way above the pay grade of other entry-level jobs!

Most challenging?

Accenture will take all that you give it. It takes time to understand how to balance a work life balance and push back when necessary—especially when traveling for work so much!

What are your possible career paths now?

I could be a consulting manager, Oracle database administrator (DBA), Linux administrator, and system administrator.

Advice for current students?

Apply to all types of positions! Consulting was not the first thing I thought of when pursuing engineering, but it has offered me an incredibly lucrative and exciting opportunity to travel all over the country and the world—learning quickly with rapidly changing projects and roles.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

I would be happy to discuss opportunities in consulting further!

Q&A with Anders Olmanson, Medical Innovator, AndersWanders

What do you do?

I travel the world and study healthcare in different countries. I meet with healthcare professionals to observe current state of healthcare practice and map out problem areas for future solutions. I use my network to set-up meetings with experts around the world. I also capture data through note taking, voice recording, and camera. Plus, I research high-level information about country through tools such as PESTLE analysis.

What's a typical work day?

Each day is very different depending on the setting you are in. Some days, you spend in the hospital shadowing a doctor. Other days, you go visit rural health units on the outskirts of the world. Some days are just for traveling from one place to the next. Other days are used for country research, reflection, and making sure info is properly collected and stored. The other part of the time is enjoying the countries you are in—especially the food!

What qualities are important for this position?

Adaptability, network utilization, getting past language barriers, interviewing skills, procedure observation skills, independence, planning, travel ability, and being able to go outside of your comfort zone.

What about technical skills?

It’s important to have a medical-device background, organizational skills, and the ability to frame questions.

What training were you offered for your position?

I did a master’s in medical device innovation at the University of Minnesota, where topics like needs finding, PESTLE analysis, etc. was taught. The rest you learn the hard way by trial and error.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

The most satisfying aspects of my work are being able to travel, being self-employed, meeting with experts in different fields, and having the world be my office.

Most challenging?

Language barriers for technical aspects of things and coordinating meetings with people you have never met. It’s important to know enough information beforehand to maximize the knowledge you will gain from interviewing someone.

What are your possible career paths now?

I could start a medical device company, consult for big company looking to go into emerging markets, or I’ve been told I could write a book!

Advice for current students?

There are plenty of problems in the world. Find ones that you are passionate about and understand why they exist. Then get a team together and solve them! As a biomedical engineer you should have the foundation to come up with the medical solutions of the future. What you do with your degree is up to you!

Any other advice you'd like to share?

Talk with your professors and experts in industry. There are so many smart people out there that you can learn from. The world and the people in it are a rich source of information that you will not always get in your textbooks.

I believe it is important to find your unique place in the world. How can your strengths, passion, values, and skills come together to make the most impact on the world? Not everybody finds this, but it is a worthwhile pursuit to try.

Don’t be afraid to take risks! You will learn so much more getting out of your comfort zone!

Q&A with Breanna Hardee, Associate Manufacturing Engineer, Medtronic

What do you do?

Provide support to six different manufacturing lines to help maintain productivity and efficiency.

What’s a typical work day?

It starts by looking at yields for my production lines for the past few days, going to our daily morning meeting to check in and get updates on current issues, then spend the rest of my day either working on projects/issues, or in meetings. 

What qualities are important for this position?

Besides being able to work well with others and communicate effectively, you need to be able to think outside the box—to be creative and be able to problem solve situations on the spot. Understanding others, realizing that we all come from different backgrounds and walks of life is also a key ability for this position.

What about technical skills? 

You must have a good understanding of basic mechanical and electrical properties, be able to do some simple and complex mathematics problems, as well as use CAD and statistical software.

What training were you offered for your position? 

I had to go through all sorts of training for my position, from knowing the companies good documentation practices to learning the company policies and procedures. I am also working on getting lean six-sigma training offered by the company.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

Being able to help others. For me, this comes in many forms: from knowing I am helping to impact others quality of life to making simple change on the production floor and having my operators thank me.

Most challenging?

The most challenging part of my job has got to be when I don't know what the problem is, the root cause of it, and I have to spend more time and resources to try to figure out what it is—which can also be a fun part of my job.

What are your possible career paths now?

I can move up to a manufacturing engineer and then a principal manufacturing engineer. I could also get a master’s in business and potentially move into a managerial position.

Advice for current students?

Keep your mind open to different positions and companies, there is more to the medical device field than research and development (R&D). You will find that even if you thought you would never do something, you may actually end up liking it—that’s what happened to me.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

Always be open to learning new things and experiencing new opportunities. Don't give up, just because something doesn’t work out one way—that's okay, you just found one way it won't work. Just keep moving forward and be determined.