The Biomedical Engineering program at Rutgers University was initially established in 1965 as a track within Electrical Engineering, offering M.S. degrees with a Biomedical Engineering emphasis. In 1986, the State of New Jersey formally chartered the Rutgers Department of Biomedical Engineering as an independent entity within the School of Engineering with exclusive responsibility for granting M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering. The Department developed its graduate programs in collaboration with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) to provide a strong foundation in the basic biomedical and clinical sciences along with rigorous training in engineering fundamentals, and the graduate program has offered joint degrees from Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School since 1999. Since the merger of UMDNJ with Rutgers, and the subsequent formation of the Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences and the Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, the ties between BME and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have further strengthened. The undergraduate program in Biomedical Engineering was inaugurated in 1991 under the “Applied Sciences’ option within the School of Engineering; a formal undergraduate B.S. degree in BME was approved by the University in 1997 and by the State in 1999.
The achievements of biomedical engineering constantly touch our daily lives. Past and current breakthroughs that were pioneered at Rutgers include: techniques for online analysis and operating room lesioning of brain tissue for Parkinson’s disease; an artificial hand with finger dexterity; the use of virtual reality in the rehabilitation of limbs; revolutionary techniques for making large numbers of new biopolymers for implants; and rapid NMR analysis of protein structure, balloon catheters, and pacemakers. The BME undergraduate program currently offers three main curriculum options, called “tracks”: 1) biomedical computing, imaging, and instrumentation, 2) biomechanics and rehabilitation engineering, and 3) tissue engineering and molecular bioengineering.
The biomedical computing, imaging, and instrumentation track provides training in computational approaches, various imaging modalities, bioelectronic device design, and in theoretical modeling related to microscopic and macroscopic biomedical phenomena. A focus in biomechanics and rehabilitation engineering offers instruction on development of devices for improved human performance. In the tissue engineering and molecular bioengineering track, students apply principles of materials science, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and engineering to design engineered tissues, biomaterials, and molecular medicine, through the pursuit of problems on the cellular, molecular and nano-scale.
The broad education provided by these tracks allows students to choose from a wide variety of careers. Many graduates work in large corporations and smaller companies as practicing biomedical engineers. Increasing numbers of graduates are finding rewarding jobs in state and federal institutions, including the Patent and Trademark Office and many of the National Laboratories of Advanced Research. The B.S. degree program also prepares qualified students for graduate study leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in biomedical engineering.
In addition, undergraduate students are prepared to meet the graduate entrance requirements for medical and law schools, business administration, and other professional disciplines. There are several exciting opportunities for conducting research at the undergraduate level. The Department has an established Honors Academy for high achieving juniors and seniors who are interested in intensive research and training. Additionally, the department participates in the School of Engineering’s James J. Slade Scholars Research Program. Both selective programs can serve as springboards for highly qualified students to commence work toward the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in the senior year of the undergraduate curriculum.