Colleges introduce bioengineering minor

Laura Monaco

In recent months, the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Nursing joined creative forces in developing a new minor for the University: bioengineering.

According to the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, bioengineering is “an essential underpinning field of the 21st century,” as it efficiently blends the fields of engineering and biology to generate scientific advances for the benefit of society.

In nearly every prominent university across the country, bioengineering is offered as either a major or a minor, defining it as a science for the future.

At the University, the new minor provides a true interdisciplinary experience for students, as it bridges the gap between the College of Engineering, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Nursing.

The introduction of the bioengineering minor has been well received by science and engineering students alike.

“As a biology major, the marriage of these two fields not only provides a plethora of interesting courses to master, but also creates advances for the future,” sophomore Kristi Dodbiba said. “Bioengineering could spell out the future of medicine. By allowing students to have the option of being a bioengineering minor, they will become valuable assets for their future employers. This minor also gives the University an edge along with the top colleges in the country because students will be well versed in this field and will have a great deal of experience for the opportunities that await them.”

Students eligible for a minor in bioengineering must complete first year calculus and physics courses and be in good academic standing. The completion of the minor requires a minimum of 24 credits in the sciences and engineering, which includes 12 credits outside a major, nine credits inside a major and three credits of the student’s choice.

Interestingly, the minor can be completed through an open, or track, structure. The open structure provides students with a wide variety of courses from each of the University’s three participating colleges, without specialization in one sub-category.

This option allows students to design and plan their own courses of study through the University Catalog.

Conversely, the track structure immerses students in a particular discipline within the bioengineering field.

Students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences can choose from three areas of study: biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology; physical and organismal biology; and ecology and environmental sciences to complete the minor.

Likewise, the College of Engineering offers specialized tracks, including biopharmaceuticals, environmental biotechnology, biomechanical and biomedical signaling process. The track structure allows students to follow a specific course of study that closely relates to a subdivision in the growing bioengineering industry.

In addition to introducing students to the burgeoning bioengineering industry, the minor provides participating students with a number of laboratory and research opportunities in both the Colleges of Engineering and Arts and Sciences.

While completing the minor, students are afforded with the laboratory resources required to simulate fluid dynamics in biological processes, as well as the opportunity to use modern computational tools to predict kinematic and dynamic forces at work in the human body.

Due to the many specializations present in the bioengineering industry, a minor offers numerous career possibilities in both the health and engineering professions.

In the sub-field of biomaterials, living tissues as well as synthetic materials are examined for their ability to be used in the engineering of medical implants, such as devices used in joint replacement surgery.

Similarly, the work of bioinstrumentation also occupies much of the health care setting, as it involves the generation of medical diagnostic and treatment devices and the development of advanced laboratory equipment.

On a different scale, bioinformatics employs mathematical models to analyze and predict biological behavior. Applications for a bioengineering minor are available on the University’s Web site, and are to be submitted to the Office of the College of Engineering, CEER 309.