This post is sponsored by Purdue University
Biomedical engineers have strong prospects over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projects that employment of bioengineers and biomedical engineers will grow 10% between 2021 and 2031. During that period, an average of 1,200 new jobs will be posted each year.
Those already working in the field can advance their careers and seize new opportunities with a master’s degree that deepens their technical expertise. As a leading institution known for its innovation and rigor, Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is often a top choice for those seeking advanced education. The school’s faculty are industry experts who, along with students, have licensed more than 100 patents and launched dozens of companies that have raised more than $75 million in venture capital.
Purdue University now offers an online master’s degree in biomedical engineering that gives working professionals a way to obtain the same degree as those attending in person while being able to continue working. The program is also flexible, giving students the ability to select courses from other engineering or non-engineering disciplines so that they can customize the focus of their biomedical engineering degree to align with their career trajectory and future goals.
Aaron Lottes, associate professor of engineering practice and director of professional education at the Weldon School, helped develop the online master’s degree program and shares more about what makes it a good fit for those seeking to capitalize on the job opportunities in biomedical engineering.
Question: Tell us about the Biomedical Engineering Online Master’s Degree Program at Purdue University. What makes this program stand apart from others?
Answer: We are here to help students build better life-changing technologies together. The program requires 10 courses across a range of areas, including biomedical engineering, quantitative and analytical, life sciences, and regulatory affairs and professional skills. The online courses are the same rigorous offerings taught by the same award-winning professors as on campus.
One unique offering that we have is a three-course certificate in regulatory science and regulatory affairs for medical devices that students can earn as a part of the master’s program. The optional certificate program provides in-depth training in critical areas of medical device development and testing, regulatory strategy and submissions, and quality systems. Participation from medical device industry and government regulatory experts brings real-world experiences into these courses.
Q: What kinds of career options open up for prospective students when they complete this degree program?
A: Earning a master’s degree in biomedical engineering provides graduates with the knowledge to make a bigger impact, whether that is designing new life-saving medical devices, working to get these devices through regulatory approval processes, or collaborating with physicians on how to better treat patients. Career opportunities and competitiveness for open positions also increase with a master’s degree. Some students use their degree to advance in their current roles, while others look at this as an opportunity to make a shift in their career trajectory or an entryway into the medical device industry.
Q: At what stage of your career is pursuing a degree like this most ideal?
A: That really depends on the student, their background, and what they want to get out of the program: There is no single perfect time. That said, the majority of our students are relatively early in their careers. At this early point, some students have more time available to commit to coursework and are still in an academic mindset, looking at how they can differentiate themselves from peers and accelerate their careers. Having a few, or many, years of industry experience often provides a greater perspective and vision of how course material can apply in practice, and it can also make for richer discussions and learning opportunities.
Q: What are some important traits for prospective biomedical engineering students to have?
A: Students should of course have a strong engineering and technical background, but another set of key skills for biomedical engineers is the “softer” skills. Empathy and care and concern for patients motivates many of our students. We consistently hear from industry and government colleagues about the importance of developing strong communication skills for biomedical engineers, and we work to develop those skills through coursework and projects. Ethics is another important factor when working in the biomedical field, and we have a course that focuses on ethical considerations and decision-making.