Dr. Charles S. Tritt
Phone: (414) 277-7421
Fax: (414) 277-7465
Biomedical engineers use scientific knowledge and engineering principles to solve health care related problems. They often create and improve medical devices. Biomedical engineers are also frequently involved in medical research. In general, they use the latest technologies and techniques to improve human well being.
Specialty Areas in Biomedical Engineering
Biomedical engineering is a broad field with the following widely recognized specialty areas:
Electronic Medical Instrumentation and Bio-signal Processing
Electronic medical instrumentation and modern measurement techniques are routinely used to monitor patients and to diagnose and treat their diseases. Computers and embedded microcontrollers are essential parts of most modern medical devices, which include heart monitors, pulse oximeters, cardiac defibrillators and glucose monitors.
Biomedical engineers apply signal processing methods to the design of medical devices that monitor and diagnose conditions in the human body. Bio-signal processing involves the sophisticated analysis of data collected from patients or experimental subjects using medical instrumentation in an effort to interpret these signals. This provides physicians and researchers with vital information about the condition of their subjects. Applications of bio-signal processing include heart arrhythmia detection and anesthesia monitoring.
Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Biomaterials include living tissue and natural and synthetic materials used for implantation and in medical devices. Understanding the properties of the living materials is vital in the selection of implantable materials. Selecting appropriate material to place in the human body may be one of the most difficult tasks faced by a biomedical engineer. Biomaterials must be nontoxic, non-carcinogenic, chemically inert, stable and often must be mechanically strong enough to withstand the repeated forces during a lifetime of use. Examples of biomaterials include temporary synthetic skin replacements, dental adhesives, bone cements, metals and polymers used in replacement joints and materials used in heart valve prosthetics.
Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is one of the newest and most rapidly advancing areas of biomedical engineering. Tissue engineering involves the formation of new tissues, either directly inside the body or ex vivo for implantation, to replace tissue damaged or destroyed by accident, disease, or congenital defect. Tissue engineering often involves the use of carefully designed synthetic scaffolds. Regenerative medicine involves inducing the body to regenerate natural tissue rather than form scar tissue after an injury. Examples of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine include the production of permanent living skin replacements, the regeneration of damaged cartilage and inducing the regeneration of functional heart muscle after heart attacks.
Medical imaging combines knowledge of unique physical phenomena (sound, radiation, magnetism, etc.) with high speed electronic data processing, analysis and display to generate images of medical interest. Often, these images can be obtained with minimally or completely noninvasive procedures. Examples include ultrasound imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed x-ray tomography (CT).
In the past 50 years, biomedical engineers have helped create artificial replacements for several human organs, including lungs, hearts, kidneys and skin. However, none of these replacement organs work as well as their natural counterparts and there are several other organs that have so far not been successfully replaced. These shortcomings in artificial organ technology illustrate the need for biomedical engineers to continue their efforts to improve existing and create new artificial organs.
Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Engineering
Biomechanics is the application of fluid mechanics, kinematics and mechanical statics and dynamics to biological and medical situations. It includes the study of motion, material deformation and flow within the body, as well as the behavior of devices and in, and attached to, the body. Examples include the development of artificial hearts and heart-assist devices, replacement heart valves and artificial joints.
Rehabilitation engineering uses concepts from biomechanics and other areas to develop devices to enhance the capabilities and improve the quality of life for individuals with physical, sensory and cognitive impairments. Examples include orthotics, prosthetic limbs and home and workplace assistive devices.
Systems Physiology and Modeling
In the context of biomedical engineering, modeling refers to the use of mathematic, scientific and engineering principles to predict the behavior of systems. Systems may include the entire human body, organs or organ systems, tissues, medical devices and combinations of these.
This aspect of biomedical engineering is used to gain a comprehensive and integrated understanding of the function of living systems and the interaction of medical devices with these systems. Fluid mechanics and transport phenomena concepts often form the bases of these models. Modeling is used in the analysis of experimental data and in formulating mathematical descriptions of physiological events. In research, modeling is used as a predictive tool in designing new experiments to refine knowledge and understanding. Examples include the prediction of plasma glucose concentration in normal and diabetic individuals, the development of drug releasing skin patches, dynamic models of the biochemistry of human metabolism and modeling limb movements in normal and disease states.
MSOE’s Biomedical Engineering Curriculum
The biomedical engineering curriculum at MSOE enables students to develop relevant knowledge and engineering skills. This challenging curriculum exposes students to all the major technical areas of biomedical engineering as well as related non-technical topics. At the heart of this curriculum is a seven-quarter capstone design sequence in which student teams complete a biomedical design project using the same processes currently used in industry. As a result, graduates are well prepared to excel in either academic or industrial careers.
Biomedical engineering at MSOE starts with a solid foundation in general science and engineering topics. Students learn mathematics, physics, chemistry and social sciences. Biomedical engineering students also learn fundamental aspects of other traditional types of engineering such as electrical, mechanical and chemical. Finally, students gain specialized scientific knowledge in life science areas such as cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, biostatistics, anatomy and physiology as well as advanced engineering skills in specialty areas such as bio-transport, electronic medical instrumentation, biomaterials, biomechanics and medical imaging. This depth and breadth allows them to solve the unique problems that arise in health care situations.
MSOE’s biomedical engineering program covers all the major specialty areas in the field, giving students:
- a solid foundation of engineering and life-sciences fundamentals to provide the basis for specialized biomedical engineering learning.
- a strong focus on the complete engineering design process including market analysis, customer focus, explicit specification statements, feasibility studies, formal presentations, regulatory compliance, design reviews, and prototype development and testing.
- an emphasis on entrepreneurship in both specific courses and throughout the curriculum.
- extensive application of the theoretical principles in modern laboratory experiences including a series of joint laboratory courses that integrate principles from traditionally distinct lecture courses.
- ready access to faculty, equipment, facilities and industry contacts to emphasize professional and academic development.
Program Educational Objectives (v. 8.0)
The objective of this program is for graduates to attain within a few years of graduation:
- Professional careers in the biomedical or related engineering fields,
- Graduate study or degrees in biomedical engineering or related engineering or science fields, or
- Other related professional endeavors such as education or practice in law, medicine, business or other fields.
Student Outcomes (v. 5.0)
The program’s student outcomes are:
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
- an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
- an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
- an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
- an ability to communicate effectively
- the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
- a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
- a knowledge of contemporary issues
- an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.