The first class of an innovative biomedical engineering program that connects students to the medical community will start at the University of Waterloo next fall.

The new program in Canada's largest engineering school will give students the unique opportunity to blend hands-on design expertise with workplace experiences and academic studies.

Maud Gorbet

Maud Gorbet, Chair of the Committee for Biomedical Engineering

"There will be a design course each term that focuses on biomedical signals, biomechanics, and biomedical devices," says Paul Fieguth, chair of the Department of Systems Design Engineering. "This will ensure that students graduate with the technical skills they need to model complex biomedical systems, interpret biomedical experimental results, and design and develop innovative technologies in close collaboration with the medical community."

Biomedical engineering will be housed in the systems design engineering department and its curriculum will focus specifically on biomedical systems and the development of biomedical technologies.

Growing need for highly-skilled researchers and practitioners

"The growing need for highly-skilled researchers and practitioners makes it the ideal time to introduce this new approach to biomedical engineering education," says Pearl Sullivan, Dean of Waterloo Engineering. "I am confident the research advances and technologies that will emerge from this interdisciplinary program will address some critical health-care challenges. It will fundamentally lead to improvements in the human condition."

In 2012, Waterloo Engineering created the University’s Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology. The new biomedical engineering program will be a collaboration of three Waterloo faculties including Engineering, the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences.

The first biomedical engineering class will be limited to 45 students and will increase through the years to a maximum of 90. Because of the strong interest in the field, it's anticipated that admissions for 2014 will be highly competitive.

The right combination

Maud Gorbet, Chair of the Committee for Biomedical Engineering, says extensive research went into ensuring the program offers the right combination of high-impact courses and workplace experience.

"When we developed the curriculum we surveyed industries in various areas of biomedical engineering to determine what they were looking for in biomedical engineers to make sure our undergraduate training would meet their needs," Gorbet says. "The program will be unique in Canada due to its strong focus on the modeling and design, combined with a co-operative education experience. It will be a completely immersive experience."