Asee peer logo

Developing A Biomedical Engineering Focus While Maintaining A Strong Electrical Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.476.1 - 12.476.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Timothy Bigelow University of North Dakota

visit author page

Timothy A. Bigelow
Department of Electrical Engineering, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202 USA

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Developing a Biomedical Engineering Focus while Maintaining a Strong Electrical Engineering Curriculum


There is a growing need to train talented engineers that can develop technology at the boundary between the biological/medical sciences and engineering. Engineers that can communicate effectively with biologists and medical doctors as they solve the problems facing modern health care. While the implementation of a complete biomedical engineering curriculum may be one approach to address this need, it weakens the electrical engineering training received by the students. Hence, there remains a need for electrical engineers highly trained in circuit and system design that also understand the basics of biology, anatomy, and physiology. Therefore, we developed a biomedical engineering focus program within our electrical engineering department that provides training in the biological sciences while maintaining our strong emphasis in circuits and systems. The developed curriculum also utilized the courses already offered in other colleges minimizing the need to develop new courses within the department. This allows the program to be implemented in departments with fewer faculty members. In addition to meeting the needs of the future engineering workforce, we also hope that the program will attract talented young women to electrical engineering improving the diversity of our electrical engineering program.


Many of the most successful companies in the United States today are developing technology at the boundary between the biological sciences and the traditional engineering disciplines. Companies like Medtronic, GE Healthcare, Siemens, Johnson & Johnson are all redefining medicine through innovative technology. Therefore, there is a high demand for talented engineers that are able to work and communicate at this interface. Although some schools have decided to meet this challenge by offering a biomedical engineering major, this may not be a practical solution for smaller engineering schools with limited faculty and resources. Furthermore, as one representative from a large biomedical company recently mentioned in a private conversation, the current biomedical engineering graduates lack the depth of skills needed to be marketable. Rather, they tend to be broadly trained in many areas but lack the focused training to take technology to the marketplace. Therefore, at the University of North Dakota we endeavored to develop a focus program within Electrical Engineering that would give our students the skills and vocabulary to communicate effectively with professionals in the medical field while still retaining the training to be successful electrical engineers.

Design of Program

When designing the focus program in biomedical engineering, we had four goals. First, we wanted to train our students to be knowledgeable in the life sciences so that they could effectively communicate with healthcare professionals, understand their needs, and translate these needs into engineering design specifications. Second, we wanted to continue to train our students as competent electrical engineers so that they could contribute to the design of

Bigelow, T. (2007, June), Developing A Biomedical Engineering Focus While Maintaining A Strong Electrical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2492

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015