Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
The Department of Biomedical Engineering offers an ABET-accredited Bachelors of Science (BS) degree in BME. The BME undergraduate degree program emphasizes engineering design in preparation for employment in biomedical industries and for graduate study or Medical School.
Unique aspects of the undergraduate program include:
- Design projects throughout the curriculum
- Hands-on laboratories associated with each core course (Bioinstrumentation, Biomechanics, and Biomaterials)
- Flexibility in biomedical engineering and depth through specialization areas:
- Medical Imaging
- Biomaterials/Cell/Tissue Engineering
- Student involvement in program evaluation and improvement: Biomedical Student Advisory Committee (BSAC)
- Premed courses are built into the curriculum (two options available)
- Industry cooperatives/internship opportunities
- Study abroad opportunities
- Research opportunities and honors in research
- Nationally renowned Biomedical Engineering Society Student Chapter
- An option to complete a one year MS degree after the BS degree
One year Master’s program option for BME BS students
Students successfully completing their bachelor’s degree, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or a GPA of 3.25 for the last 60 credits of their BS program, are eligible to apply for the one year Master’s program (24 credits). Read more on how to apply here.
Our undergraduate program was founded with design at the heart of the curriculum.
Our students work on design projects every semester (sophomore through senior years) by choosing a real-world biomedical engineering project from a client list composed of faculty throughout the university (particularly from medical and life sciences), by people with specific biomedical challenges, and by engineers in industry. (Submit your unmet biomedical need or project idea here.)
Each student team (four-five students) is assigned to a BME faculty member who serves as their advisor, consultant, and mentor to guide them through their design project. This novel design-centered approach gives the students an exceptionally balanced education by incorporating clinical and biomedical industry issues, including human and animal study considerations, technical communications, FDA regulations, ethics, and intellectual property management.
At the end of every semester, the students present their work and prototype to the community in the atrium of the Engineering Centers Building, and in the spring they compete for the Tong Biomedical Engineering Design Award.
The courses and teams are formed as:
- Prototype driven – all semester results in the design, fabrication, and testing of real engineering innovations
- Close advising – teams are mentored closely by BME faculty with at most a 16:1 student to teacher ratio
- Networking – students work closely with clinicians, faculty, and other UW resources
- Building strong communication skills – professional, technical, written and oral
- Student involvement in the department and curriculum – one representative from each team forms our Biomedical Student Advisory Committee (BSAC) who meet bi-weekly and monthly with faculty
Learn more by visiting our design curriculum page.
- Complete Curriculum Advising Handbook (2015)
- Complete Curriculum Advising Handbook (updated 2017)
- BME Guide at UW-Madison
- EAGLE Course Planner (current students – bring your DARS to life)
- Tentative Schedule of BME Courses – Future course offerings (login with your UW-Madison “…@wisc.edu” Google Apps account)
- BME Tracks – Recommended list of courses
- BME courses
Biomedical engineering is multidisciplinary, bringing together expertise in engineering, physics, materials science, computation, biology and medicine to increase our understanding of disease and to improve diagnosis and treatments to benefit human health. Today biomedical engineering researchers are pushing the frontiers of science and technology by developing new tools and techniques that harness life to solve some of our most challenging problems in biology and medicine. Learn about our research.
The BME Honors in Research Degree is awarded to exceptional undergraduate students who have consistently displayed a high level of academic accomplishment and made significant contributions to research. The research should be such that the student participates in the creation of new knowledge, experiences the excitement of the research process, and makes a contribution that can be directly attributed to the student’s efforts. The research does not need to be an independent effort by the student, but can be part of a larger team effort as long as it meets the above criteria.
Eligibility for admission
- Minimum GPA for admission to the BME Honors in Research degree program is 3.5.
- The program is open to undergraduate students majoring in Biomedical Engineering and performing research with a BME Faculty member.
- A minimum of three academic sessions (i.e., semester or 8-week summer session) of continued involvement in the program is necessary. (Students who are not in school during an academic session (e.g., due to internship or co-op) are not required to conduct active research during their absence, but have to maintain contact with their research supervisor or the Biomedical Engineering Program Chair.
- During each academic session of active participation in this program, the student must engage in research under the supervision of a faculty member and register for Honors in Undergraduate Research courses (BME 389 or BME 489).
- The student must complete a total of at least eight credits of Honors in Undergraduate Research courses, including at least five credits of BME 389 and three credits of BME 489 (Senior Thesis). The student is allowed to apply up to three research credits towards the BME Technical Elective requirement in the BME curriculum.
- The student must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 in each academic session after being admitted to this program, and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the Honors in Undergraduate Research courses.
- While earning the eight credits of research credits, the student may opt to work with multiple faculty members and different research projects. However, the three credits of Senior Thesis research must be focused on a well-defined topic and must be conducted under the supervision of a single faculty member.
- The Senior Thesis is a written report that is individually prepared by the student (even when the research that was conducted by the student was part of a larger group research project). The document should be written in the style of a graduate thesis and must be approved and signed by the faculty member supervising the student’s research.
- The Senior Thesis should be completed in conjunction with BME 489 during the student’s last semester in the lab.
- A bound copy (any binding) of the Senior Thesis should be submitted to the BME Program Associate Chair of the Undergraduate Program.
- The student is required to make a presentation based on the Senior thesis to a committee of three professors (including the research supervisor) in a publicly announced seminar. Please notify the department’s Associate Chair of the Undergraduate Program at least two weeks before the presentation.
- Students must satisfactorily complete the requirements for the BS BME degree.
- To be considered for admission to the BME Honors in Research degree program, the student needs to complete a formal application form with an abstract (250 words) of their research plan.
- The application form must be approved by the faculty member(s) under whose supervision the student wishes to conduct research. The form and abstract should be submitted to the Biomedical Engineering Program Office (2130 ECB).
- To complete the application, the student must meet with the Biomedical Engineering Program Chair and Honors Committee to evaluate the application and make a decision regarding the student’s admission to the program.
There is a growing need for engineers trained in the biomedical sciences. Biomedical engineers are employed in industry, in hospitals, in research facilities of educational and medical institutions, in teaching, and in government regulatory agencies. They often serve a coordinating or interfacing function, using their background in both the engineering and medical fields.
In industry, they may create designs where an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They may be involved in performance testing of new or proposed products. Government positions often involve product testing and safety, as well as establishing safety standards for devices. In the hospital, the biomedical engineer may provide advice on the selection and use of medical equipment, as well as supervising its performance testing and maintenance. They may also build customized devices for special health care or research needs. In research institutions, biomedical engineers supervise laboratories and equipment, and participate in or direct research activities in collaboration with other researchers with such backgrounds as medicine, physiology, and nursing.
Some biomedical engineers are technical advisors for marketing departments of companies and some are in management positions. Some biomedical engineers also have advanced training in other fields. For example, many biomedical engineers also have an M.D. degree, thereby combining an understanding of advanced technology with direct patient care or clinical research.
Examples of work done by biomedical engineers include:
- Designing and constructing cardiac pacemakers, defibrillators, artificial kidneys, blood oxygenators, hearts, blood vessels, joints, arms, and legs.
- Designing computer systems to monitor patients during surgery or in intensive care, or to monitor healthy persons in unusual environments, such as astronauts in space or underwater divers at great depth.
- Designing and building sensors to measure blood chemistry, such as potassium, sodium, 02, CO2, and pH.
- Designing instruments and devices for therapeutic uses, such as a laser system for eye surgery or a device for automated delivery of insulin.
- Designing systems for laproscopic and arthroscopic surgry or devices for fracture fixation or joint replacement.
- Developing strategies for clinical decision making based on expert systems and artificial intelligence, such as a computer-based system for selecting seat cushions for paralyzed patients or for, managing the care of patients with severe burns or for diagnosing diseases.
- Designing clinical laboratories and other units within the hospital and health care delivery system that utilize advanced technology. Examples would be a computerized analyzer for blood samples, ambulances for use in rural areas, or a cardiac catheterization laboratory.
- Designing, building and investigating medical imaging systems based on X-rays CT (computed tomography), isotopes (position emission tomography), magnetic fields MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), ultrasound, or newer modalities.
- Constructing and implementing mathematical/computer models of physiological systems.
- Designing and constructing biomaterials and determining the mechanical, transport, and biocompatibility properties of implantable artificial materials.
- Implementing new diagnostic procedures, especially those requiring engineering analyses to determine parameters that are not directly accessible to measurements, such as in the lungs or heart.
- Investigating the biomechanics of injury and wound healing.
- Designing new tools of scientific discovery to better understand biology and physiology.
- Tissue engineering to create replacements for damaged tissues.
- Designing prosthetics and orthopedic implants.
The medical device industry is largely a cottage industry composed of thousands of small companies. Unlike the large companies that interview on campus, many of these companies are too small to justify sending recruiters to campus.
The following databases and websites will help you find biomedical engineering positions:
- Engineering Career Services
- AIMBE Navigate the Circuit
- Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation Job Postings
- Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Career Connections
- BME Central
- IEEE Jobs Site
- IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) Jobs Site
- Medical Alley (biomedical and biotech companies in the upper Midwest region)
- Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars
You can find BME’s Accreditation, Educational Objectives, and Student Outcomes, as well as Enrollment and Degree Data information on our “Accreditation” page.