First undergaduate class in Biomedical Engineering at WSU begins studies

DETROIT - Administrators in the College of Engineering Biomedical Engineering Department are ready to welcome the first class of undergraduate Biomedical Engineering (BME) students this fall semester.

The new undergraduate degree program completes the complement of a full BME program, from freshman to Ph.D., initiated in 1998 when the first graduate students began coursework in biomedical engineering. The department, fully established in 2002, builds on the college’s more than 70 years of pioneering work in bioengineering research.

“The new program recognizes the fact that biomedical engineering now stands by itself as a basic engineering field,” said Michele Grimm, professor of Biomedical Engineering, who leads the planning team for the new program. “We expect 20 students enrolled by the start of the semester; it’s a great size for our first class.”

Interest in the rapidly growing field as a career choice is high. Requirements for admission to the program are more stringent than for other college units. To be admitted, high school graduates must have at least a 3.5 grade-point average, both overall and in math and science. They must also have scored at least a 29 on their math ACT. “They must be ready to take Calculus,” said Grimm. “Many of the students who are enrolling this fall are ready to take Calculus III.”

At Wayne State, biomedical or bioengineering, a relatively new field encompassing the application of engineering to the understanding of human physiology and how the body responds to outside forces, was originally strongly driven by the need to understand the mechanisms of injuries caused by automobile crashes and other impacts and the desire to develop safety devices and systems to reduce the number and seriousness of these injuries. Much of the research and development addressed head and back injuries.

Today, the field of biomedical engineering at Wayne State has broadened substantially. Designing new materials for controlled drug delivery, developing robotic control systems to assist with finely detailed surgery, adapting systems to assist individuals with disabilities, assessing the mechanism of injury from sports impacts or blast trauma – these are just some of the applications of biomechanics, biomaterials, and biomedical instrumentation that students and faculty explore every day in WSU’s College of Engineering.

Wayne State’s Bioengineering Research Center, which dates back to 1939 with the initial experiments and mapping of the tolerance levels of the human body, works closely with clinicians and researchers at the WSU School of Medicine, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Hospital and Oakwood Hospital on numerous research grants and projects. These multidisciplinary collaborations include applications in orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, radiology, rehabilitation, ophthalmology and obstetrics. Graduate students, and now undergraduate students, benefit from these relationships with excellent lab opportunities to learn biomedical engineering at the practical level.

“Our undergrad students start with a BME design lab in their first semester, and this continues throughout the program for eight semesters,” said Grimm. “They will apply what they learn in the class to current real-world, biomedical engineering challenges. Clinicians will be joining us in the classroom, so the students will see exactly how math, science and engineering apply to biomedical engineering problems.”

Grimm foresees that approximately one-third of Wayne State’s biomedical engineering graduates will end up working for biomedical companies, one-third will go on to medical school, and the other third will go on to graduate or other professional programs.

Information on the new undergraduate program, and all educational offerings in biomedical engineering, is available at

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