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Biomedical Engineering Curricula: Producing The Engineers Of 2020

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

BME Curriculum Development

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.280.1 - 14.280.11

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Paper Authors

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Samantha Jacques Milwaukee School of Engineeirng

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John D. Gassert Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Thomas Swiontek Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Jeffrey LaMack Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Charles Tritt Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Larry Fennigkoh Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Ron Gerrits Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Vincent Canino Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Nancy Schlick Milwaukee School of Engineering

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract



Many engineering programs are struggling to keep their curriculum current and meet the changing needs of today’s technically based society. Every engineering program needs to produce technically savvy engineers prepared for the workforce (or graduate school) while teaching them professional skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication. Because Biomedical Engineering (BME) programs must include the ability “to solve the problems at the interface of engineering and biology” and “the ability to make measurements on and interpret data from living systems” [1] BME programs often have more difficulties including the requisite engineering topics necessary to meet ABET criteria. A good biomedical engineer must have at least a basic understanding of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering fields as well as a strong understanding how the life sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physiology are applied at the interface of engineering and biology. This is a tall order to accomplish in a four year curriculum.

In 2004, the National Academy of Engineering published the Engineer of 2020 [2] report which contained additional recommendations on improving engineering curricula. Incorporating these recommendations as well as the skills and knowledge the ABET requires is a difficult task. This paper will detail the latest curriculum revision which implements many of the recommendations of the Engineer of 2020 report while still meeting ABET Program Outcomes.

In 2005, the faculty at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) began a thorough review of its BME curriculum. The curriculum had been relatively stable for about 12 years with small changes made to keep the curriculum current with changes in technology. To meet the need for continuous improvement, the faculty undertook a redesign of the entire curriculum in an effort to incorporate new educational techniques and modern engineering concepts. Because of the time it takes to complete a complete curricular change, as well as the time between these large changes, the faculty spent considerable time ensuring the curriculum effectively and efficiently met current and perceived future needs of the program and its constituents. Most of the current and perceived future needs were determined from the Engineer of 2020 Report (2) as well as alumni and employer data.

Recommendations from the Engineer of 2020 Report

Several recommendations on engineering curriculum as well as skills engineers need to gain during their undergraduate career were given in the report from the National Academy of Engineering. Below are some of these recommendations [2]

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