March 31, 2014

Career options in biomedical engineering

Undergraduate and graduate students hear from panel of industry professionals

More than 60 undergraduate and graduate students from the Schulich School of Engineering and the multidisciplinary Biomedical Engineering Graduate program turned out to learn more about how to succeed within the thriving biomedical engineering industry at the Biomedical Engineering Industry Panel March 26. 

Corporate leaders, including a couple of University of Calgary alumni, talked about the skills the students need to acquire to be successful as biomedical engineers and how the industry is growing in Calgary and around the world. The field of biomedical engineering, still in its infancy, includes medical imaging, biomechanics and cell and tissue engineering.

The panelists represented Zymetrix, a Calgary firm that tests and develops biomaterials and engineered tissues for medical device and pharmaceutical companies, Morpheus Medical, a San Francisco based medical imaging software company, Calgary Scientific, a local diagnostic medical imaging company and Kent Imaging, a medical device company that’s commercializing products.

The panelists—including alumni Torin Taerum and Shannon Boucousis—urged the students to be flexible as they build their careers. They told the students to be prepared to change companies—and countries–because there are plenty of opportunities in biomedical engineering around the world.

Serial entrepreneur Donald Chapman, of Kent Imaging, encouraged the students to consider creating their own businesses. "Alberta is a great place for entrepreneurship," he said. "There is nothing more common than talent, the question is, who can apply it."

The students appreciated hearing different perspectives on the industry. "This event brought some diversity to my professional horizon," said Alexandra Gustafson, who is in second year geomatics engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering. "The industry perspective offered by the event was a refreshing change from the academia,” said Chris Sarsons, a graduate student in biomedical engineering.

The panel was organized by the Biomedical Engineering Students Society (BMESS) and the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Students Association (BMEG) to promote relationships between students and industry. The Biomedical Engineering Graduate program has more than 60 students across five faculties.  The undergraduate Biomedical Engineering Specialization (BMES) within the Schulich School of Engineering admits 45 students annually across different engineering departments. BMES students often pursue an internship with a biomedical engineering company.

Engineering Solutions for Health: Biomedical Engineering is one of six strategic research priorities of the University of Calgary.