University of Colorado, Boulder

Program Options

Academic programs by department:

Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences

The curriculum in Aerospace Engineering Sciences (AES) offers undergraduate students sufficient flexibility to tailor their educational interests towards specific subtopics. In conjunction with a BS degree, various minors can be pursued, an option in bioengineering exists, or a pre-med curriculum can be followed in preparation for the medical school entry exam (MCAT). A novel bioengineering emphasis in the graduate program, termed Bioastronautics, encompasses the study and support of life in space from single cells to plants and humans.

Career opportunities in this field range from systems engineers to space biomedical researchers and life scientists to astronauts. These are the individuals who will lead the way towards safe and efficient human exploration of space in the 21st century. This program is nearly unique in the country, and has a strong track record of producing graduates who are highly sought and easily placed in professional positions at NASA, in industry, and in academia.

M.S. and Ph.D. theses are pursued on topics such as determining the effects of space flight on biological systems or design of related experimental hardware. Research funding may be obtained through the Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program (URAP) or Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Many recent graduate students have received NASA Fellowships and other research awards. Students at all levels are encouraged to seek involvement with projects ongoing at BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA-funded Center hosted in the Aerospace Department.

Contact for information: Claire Yang
(303) 492-2940

Biochemical and Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

In the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the Bioengineering Option, often called the Bio Option, prepares students for entry into various fields related to biology, biotechnology, and medicine. The Bio Option supplements the standard chemical engineering coursework with curricula in biology, genetics, biochemistry, bioprocess engineering, bio-separations, and biomedical engineering. Students who complete the Bio Option successfully compete for a wide variety of employment opportunities, including positions in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, the medical device industry, and the environmental engineering field.

In addition, there is a Pre-Medicine Curriculum, which satisfies requirements for those students interested in medical school. Chemical and Biological Engineering has one of the best records across the Boulder campus in the percentage of applicants accepted into medical school.  Because the requirements for medical schools change frequently, students are encouraged to contact both the pre-medicine advisor in Chemical and Biological Engineering and the pre-professional advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

At the graduate level, the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department offers a variety of research projects in different aspects of biotechnology.  Our graduate students with research interests in biotechnology can participate in the Interdisciplinary Biotechnology Certificate program and NIH training program in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.  Opportunities exist for students at all levels to participate in research.

Contact for information: Prof. Dhinakar Kompala
(303) 492-6350

Biomedical Engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering programs

Environmental engineering encompasses the scientific assessment and development of engineering solutions to environmental problems impacting land, water and air quality in the biosphere.

Primary issues being addressed include: microbial processes for treatment of water and wastewater, watershed ecological processes, groundwater transport of contaminants, elimination of waterborne and airborne pathogens, solid and hazardous waste treatment and disposal, mitigating indoor and outdoor air pollution through product or process design, preventing transfer of infectious diseases, and projects related to human health and risk management.

Bioengineering topics are a subject of undergraduate curriculum in the Civil Engineering BS degree program concentration in environmental engineering, and in the Environmental Engineering BS degree program.

Graduate study in environmental engineering (M.S. and Ph.D.) incorporates a variety of courses and research topics in bioengineering related areas.

Students are also encouraged to participate in summer internships and in research through independent study projects, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), the Environmental Engineering Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, or as Research Assistants in sponsored programs.

Contact for information: Prof. Joseph Ryan
(303) 492-0772

Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering option, available to both electrical and computer undergraduate engineering majors, focuses on the application of biophysical and engineering concepts to the improvement and protection of human health.  Successful completion of this option is noted on a studentís transcript and meets most medical school requirements.

Coursework in the Electrical and Computer Engineering curriculum is coupled with specialized courses linking electrical engineering to biomedical applications such as neural signals and systems, bioeffects of electromagnetic fields, therapeutic and diagnostic uses of bioelectric phenomena, medical image processing, technical solutions to cognitive disabilities and wireless technology for inpatient rehabilitation. Graduate and undergraduates students participate in research projects in these areas.

Students interested in the BME option may receive elective credit for two semesters of biology if they also complete two bioengineering courses from the ECE offerings. One of these ECE courses also may be used to satisfy distribution requirements. The basic BME option is thus composed of two semesters of biology and two ECE bioengineering courses taken in lieu of electives.

Students who wish to also complete requirements for entrance to medical school (or dental, veterinary, etc.) should add two semesters of organic chemistry to the BME option. Pre-medical ECE students may petition to have these courses substituted for other electives. Several of these BME electives are also applicable to the Boulder campus Neurosciences Program.

Contact for information: Prof. Howard Wachtel
  (303) 492-7713

Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Contributions to the area of Biomedical Engineering by mechanical engineers include the design and manufacture of biomedical devices ranging from prostheses to micromechanical blood flow sensors and artificial heart valves. Application of mechanical engineering fundamentals (thermofluids, mechanics, and materials science) to questions in biophysics also contributes to improvements in medical diagnoses and treatments.

The Biomedical Engineering Option provides undergraduates an opportunity to formally augment the ME degree with a background in biomedical topics. The option consists of the regular requirements for a BSME, plus technical electives focused in bioengineering. Successful completion of this option will be recognized with a transcript entry, and students will receive a certificate of completion. Independent Study in bioengineering is also available and may include clinical or laboratory experience at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Other technical electives may be applied to the Biomedical Option, provided bioengineering content is included (for example, in the form of a biomedical project). Students must consult with their advisor to confirm applicability of these courses.

Graduate study in bioengineering topics is also encouraged. Half of the faculty members in the ME Department have research interests in biomedical applications and a wide range of research projects are available for students to pursue as M.S. or Ph.D. theses.

Contact for information:  Molly Conroy
 (303) 492-8483 Molly.Conroy

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