What is a Biomedical Engineer?
Table of Contents
A biomedical engineer is someone who analyzes and designs solutions to problems in biology and medicine, with the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of patient care. They work in manufacturing, universities, hospitals, research facilities of companies and educational and medical institutions, teaching, and government regulatory agencies.
What does a Biomedical Engineer do?
A biomedical engineer will typically do the following:
- Design systems and products, such as artificial organs, artificial devices that replace body parts, and machines for diagnosing medical problems
- Install, adjust, maintain, repair, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment
- Evaluate the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of biomedical equipment
- Train clinicians and other personnel on the proper use of equipment
- Work with life scientists, chemists, and medical scientists to research the engineering aspects of biological systems of humans and animals
A biomedical engineer may design instruments, devices, and software, bringing together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures, or conducting research needed to solve clinical problems. They often serve a coordinating function, using their background in both engineering and medicine. In industry, they may create products where an in-depth understanding of living systems and technology is essential. They frequently work in research and development or in quality assurance.
Some biomedical engineers design electrical circuits, software to run medical equipment, or computer simulations to test new drug therapies. Some also design and build artificial body parts to replace injured limbs. In some cases, they develop the materials needed to make the replacement body parts. They also design rehabilitative exercise equipment.
The work of these engineers spans many professional fields. For example, although their expertise is based in engineering and biology, they often design computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. Alternatively, many of these engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop new drug therapies. Others draw heavily on mathematics and statistics to build models, in order to understand the signals transmitted by the brain or heart. Some specialty areas within biomedical engineering include bioinstrumentation, biomaterials, biomechanics, cellular, tissue, and genetic engineering, clinical engineering, medical imaging, orthopedic surgery, rehabilitation engineering, and systems physiology. Some people with training in biomedical engineering become professors.
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What is the workplace of a Biomedical Engineer like?
A biomedical engineer can work in a variety of settings, depending on what they do. Some work in hospitals where therapy occurs, and others work in laboratories doing research. Still others work in manufacturing settings where they design biomedical engineering products. Additionally, these engineers also work in commercial offices where they make or support business decisions.
Biomedical engineers work with patients and in teams with other professionals. Thus, where and how they work are often determined by others’ specific needs. For example, a biomedical engineer who has developed a new device designed to help a person with a disability to walk again might have to spend hours in a hospital to determine whether the device works as planned. If the engineer finds a way to improve the device, the engineer might have to then return to the manufacturer to help alter the manufacturing process to improve the design.
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