Major In Biomedical Engineering Approved
October 23, 2003 --
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently approved
a new undergraduate major in biomedical engineering at the University
has offered graduate degrees in biomedical engineering since
1967 and an undergraduate minor for the past four years.
now, it had not offered a bachelor’s degree program in this
rapidly emerging field.
new degree will enable us to compete for the most talented young
people in the country who are captivated by this exciting
discipline.” said Thomas C. Skalak, chairman of the department,
which is a joint program of U.Va.’s School of Medicine
and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “We
appreciate President Casteen’s vision and support for
this multidisciplinary program at a time of fiscal challenge
Department of Biomedical Engineering is ranked among the top
20 programs in the country,
according to U.S. News & World
Report. The discipline comprises more than 80 programs in
the United States and about 200 in Europe.
field of biomedical engineering has developed rapidly
over the past decade, thanks in part to support from the
Foundation, said William F. Walker, assistant professor
and undergraduate program
director for U.Va.’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Whitaker is a private, nonprofit foundation based in Rosslyn,
Va., and dedicated to the growth of the field of biomedical
field also has gained acceptability and visibility in recent
years and jobs in medicine and industry
graduates, Walker said.
U.S. Department of Labor estimates that jobs in the field of
biomedical engineering will
increase 31.4 percent
by 2010 — triple
the rate for all other engineering jobs.
program has benefited from these national trends,
as well as from strong administrative support from the
U.Va.’s engineering and medical schools, and
through funding from Whitaker, Walker said.
1998, Whitaker gave two grants to U.Va., a $3 million development
grant to strengthen the program
and a $7.5
million grant toward
the construction of a biomedical and medical sciences
building. The development grant has been used to
hire and equip labs
for four new biomedical engineering faculty members.
And completion of the building, MR-5, in 2002 enabled
into a world-class building with new teaching labs.
department has added about a dozen new courses to the curriculum
in the past five years, creating
students how to integrate the quantitative skills
needed by engineers with
the understanding of biology, chemistry and physics
needed by medical researchers.
new major will strengthen our program and help us work toward
boosting U.Va.’s Department of Biomedical
Engineering into the top 10 nationally,” Skalak
faculty members endorsed the program last spring and the University’s
Board of Visitors gave its stamp of approval in the
summer. The department hopes to secure accreditation
the program from the Accreditation Board
for Engineering and Technology by 2007.
to Walker, most of the faculty
members needed to teach the additional
in place and Whitaker
funds to equip teaching laboratories.
are currently about 280 Engineering School undergraduates who
Of those, four fourth-year students expect
to complete the
new major this coming May. A larger group
of about 35 students is expected to complete
by the spring of 2005, and 45 a year
are also 58 graduate students enrolled in the department.
“We get some of the best and brightest students in the nation,” Walker
said. “They are ambitious and
they will inevitably develop into more
than just in-the-trenches engineers.
Many will become
technical leaders or move into management
as their careers develop. This new
interdisciplinary major will give them
the tools they
need to succeed throughout their careers.”
Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858