Biomedical engineering degree
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What can I do with a biomedical engineering degree?

3 May 2017

With the CAO change-of-mind facility opening this Friday, you might consider adding a biomedical engineering degree to your list.

Are you regretting the choices you wrote down on your CAO back in February? Or do you even remember what exactly you put down?

Thankfully, the CAO allows you to change your mind up until 1 July, and that free, online, change-of-mind option will become available on 5 May.

If science is your passion, you might have put down a common-entry science degree to give you the widest scope, especially if you weren’t sure where you wanted to go specifically.

Now, having had a few months to think about it, maybe something more specific is springing to mind.

Biomedical engineering brings together a myriad of sectors. It’s about taking the principles of engineering and science and applying them to medicine, biology and healthcare.

Typically, a biomedical engineer would design systems, products and biomedical equipment. If you want to be a scientist at the forefront of improving the lives of others, a biomedical engineering degree might be the right fit for you.

Dublin City University (DCU)

DCU has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering. The bachelor’s degree is a four-year course, with the option of graduating then or continuing for a fifth year.

This course covers the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, engineering and computing. It also tackles design in the form of a group project in which you create a radio-controlled device. Students will further develop these design skills in their second year as they delve into biological engineering subjects. Within their third year, a six-month work placement will be completed, generally at a medical device company.

In the fourth year, students will learn about advanced technologies in rehabilitation engineering and surgical device technology. They will also be expected to work on a substantial design or research project.

Students can then go into a fifth year to complete their master’s degree, or graduate with their bachelor’s degree and enter the industry.

University College Dublin (UCD)

In this four-year degree, students will follow a common first year with other engineering students, covering the basics of engineering, physics and chemistry.

Similar to other degree programmes, the subsequent years consist of modules that focus on biomechanics, neural engineering, medical device design and medical sciences for engineers.

Students may have the opportunity to complete some of their studies abroad during their third year. There is also the option to complete a fifth year for the master’s degree, in which there will be a work placement of between six and eight months.

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Similar to DCU and UCD, students who complete their four-year bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering have the option to complete a fifth year for their master’s degree.

In TCD, topics include areas of both mechanical and electronic engineering, specialised topics in biomedical engineering, and courses in basic medical and biological sciences. These include medical device design, tissue engineering, biomechanics and neural engineering.

In third year, students will study technical courses in mechanical and electronic engineering, along with courses in anatomy and physiology. In the fourth and optional fifth year, they will study a range of technical subjects, including the specialised subject of biomedical engineering.

During the course, students will carry out several projects, including one major research project in their final year.

University of Limerick (UL)

The bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at UL is also a four-year degree. Students who take this course will be taught the basics of engineering and how to present engineering reports and other such information.

During the subsequent years, students will study biomedical subjects such as anatomy and physiology, as well as physiological fluid mechanics and thermodynamics.

In second year, students will also complete an eight-month work placement in a biomedical engineering company in Ireland or internationally. Students at the top of the class in year three will have the opportunity to study at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US.

The final year of this degree focuses on medical device design, biomechanics and mechanobiology. Students will also undertake hospital visits to observe biomedical engineering in practice.

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT)

Unlike some of the other degrees, CIT mixes biomedical modules with engineering modules from the start of its degree, with subjects such as applied biology of the cell and introductory biomechanics.

The following years continue to delve into biomedical and deep engineering modules such as electrical engineering, mechanical materials and applied biomedical design.

Students will participate in a group innovation project where they work with business students to develop a product and produce a business plan for it. There is also a 10-week work placement in the third year.

National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG)

NUIG offers a four-year course in biomedical engineering with the option of continuing to complete a master’s and PhD.

Year one focuses completely on engineering modules. Engineering and mathematics continue to be a core part of second year, with biological and medical modules slowly introduced.

The third year tips the scales fully into biomedical subjects such as human body function, fluid dynamics, and thermodynamics and heat transfer. After the third year of study, students will complete a five-month work placement.

The fourth and final year of the bachelor’s degree focuses on the medical side of the degree, with surgical practice, medical implant and device design, and tissue engineering all featuring. There is also a professional engineering project in this year.

Career opportunities

There are plenty of opportunities for those who pursue a biomedical engineering degree. For those who want to propel themselves straight into the industry, there are many jobs available, especially in the development and production of medical devices.

Ireland is one of the largest exporters of medical products in Europe with annual exports of €12.6bn, and there are hundreds of companies involved in developing, manufacturing and marketing medical devices in the country.

Biomedical engineering students often go on to be product development and quality engineers, involved in various stages of biomedical device development.

These could be in areas such as biocompatible prostheses, micro-implants, advanced imaging methods, regenerative tissue and artificial organs.

Outside of commercial companies, biomedical engineers can also work in clinics and hospitals as clinical engineers for the equipment already in place.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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