by GISELE GALOUSTIAN | Thursday, May 02, 2024
The Department of Biomedical Engineering will focus on biomaterials and tissue engineering; smart health systems; and bio-robotics. (Photo by Alex Dolce)

In recognition of a rapidly growing field, Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science (COECS) has created a Department of Biomedical Engineering. The newly established department will focus on three key areas: biomaterials and tissue engineering; smart health systems; and bio-robotics. Biomedical engineering integrates fundamental and practical concepts in electrical and mechanical engineering, biology, computer science and medicine into a cross-disciplinary field focused on improving human health and solving problems in the delivery of health care. 

The COECS faculty are already performing state-of-the-art research and development around health and medicine funded by key government funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Florida Department of Health and other philanthropic entities. Sponsored research topics include advanced biomedical devices for point-of-care testing, tissue engineering, hybrid bio-robotics for assistive technologies, opto-electronics and bio-photonics, and processing and analyzing of bio-signals for detection of pathology.

The existing research in FAU engineering has created fertile ground for the formation of a new department dedicated to biomedical engineering and further boosts the COECS’s burgeoning research program. Moreover, the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering also will magnify research excellence university-wide through collaborations with the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing (CON), Schmidt College of Medicine (COM) and Charles E. Schmidt College of Science (COS).

“The impetus to create our new Department of Biomedical Engineering was spurred by the significant projected growth of job opportunities related to this field nationally, statewide, and in particular, in Southeast Florida,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, FAU COECS. “We have invested in a brand-new clean room that will help our students learn micro- and nano- manufacturing techniques for medical devices and sensors as well as a new biomedical laboratory fully loaded with state-of-the-art instrumentation. These substantive investments together with the innovative educational curricula will collectively provide a hands-on educational experience in biomedical engineering, designing and manufacturing of devices and other technologies to improve health, while also preparing students for medical school or advanced studies.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a projected growth of 5% from 2022 to 2032 for employment of bioengineers and biomedical engineers, faster than the average for all other occupations (3%). As of May 2023, the median annual wage for bioengineers and biomedical engineers was $99,550.

“We are excited to launch our Department of Biomedical Engineering to provide students interested in both engineering and the medical fields with innovative curricula that focuses on technical knowledge, advanced research methods and instrumentation, integration of computer science knowledge, and internship opportunities. FAU’s four-year biomedical engineering program will be one of the first programs in the nation to offer the opportunity for studying and integrating artificial intelligence into a 4+1 BS/MS program. In this program, the students will receive a bachelors in biomedical engineering and a masters in AI,” said Javad Hashemi, Ph.D., inaugural chair and professor, FAU Department of Biomedical Engineering, who currently serves as associate dean for research and a professor in the COECS. “From cancer to neurological disorders to cardiovascular disease, our biomedical engineers will be the masterminds behind innovative AI-powered technologies and therapies that are changing the landscape of medicine and health care as we know it.” 

In terms of more advanced degrees in the biomedical field, a flexible Ph.D. program is being designed to accommodate formal joint student advising with faculty from FAU’s COM, COS and CON. An M.D./Ph.D. pathway also will be available for a select group of high achieving students. All tracks within these programs require a research course, an internship with a medical institution or industry and will offer an opportunity for an international experience.

FAU expects to enroll approximately 25 students by the end of year one and about 200 students by year four. The new Department of Biomedical Engineering is located on the Boca Raton campus with courses and laboratory work also available on the John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.

“The Department of Biomedical Engineering is an exciting addition to our programs within the College of Engineering and Computer Science and builds on our existing strengths and resources, our stellar faculty and the outstanding collaborations we have across the university,” said Batalama. “Biomedical engineering students will learn from faculty across many engineering departments and will be part of cross-disciplinary collaborations on campus and throughout the community.” 

According to the American Society for Engineering Education, in 2021, 8,165 bachelor’s degrees were awarded nationally for biomedical engineering, ranking in the top 10 degrees awarded in engineering disciplines, just slightly below computer engineering (8,244).

Applications are being accepted for admission this year. For more information or to apply, contact Javad Hashemi, Ph.D., at 561-297-3438 or jhashemi@fau.edu.