Biomedical engineering programs teach people to design new tools and devices used to improve healthcare. Students study new ways to treat illness and disease. They also learn about artificial organs and prosthetics.
Not all medical breakthroughs come to you as a bottle of pills. Think of the high-tech devices that doctors use to scan your insides. Think of the artificial organs that are being developed. Think of inventions such as inflatable casts, ear thermometers, artificial skin, blood-vessel stents, and surgical staples.
In a biomedical engineering program, you find ways to use science and technology to help living systems work. You study biological processes to understand them. But you also study how to engineer materials, circuits, and machines. Since new inventions often start out with a high price tag, you learn how to reduce costs. You learn how to improve devices and processes, making them more efficient or from cheaper materials.
You may study how to apply knowledge of living systems to inventing better machines. For example, in a design project you might study how the nose works. Then, based on what you learn, you might create a mechanical sniffer for detecting explosives.
A bachelor's degree is a good way to enter this field. This usually requires four years, although some programs take five years. About 110 engineering schools in the U.S. offer this major. Some schools combine the bachelor's and master's degree into one five-year sequence.
Another route is to get a bachelor's in another field of engineering, then a master's in this field. About 80 graduate schools of engineering offer a master's in this specialty.