Study Biomedical Engineering in Australia
The growing complexity of medical technology around the world has increased the demand for appropriately trained professionals to bridge the gap between clinical medicine and applied medical technology. These professionals must be capable of defining a medical problem in engineering terms and of finding a solution that satisfies both engineering and clinical requirements. These professionals are biomedical engineers and Australia has led the way in the development of education programmes in this important area of engineering.
Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering techniques and analyses to problem-solving in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Problems that require an engineering approach arise in many aspects of health care, disease prevention and treatment and rehabilitation. These include developing systems to maintain or enhance life, designing artificial limbs and joints and creating systems to allow the handicapped to use computers for work and communication.
The biomedical engineer has expertise in engineering sciences, biological sciences and medical sciences and their expertise is usually based on one of the traditional engineering disciplines such as electrical or mechanical engineering. There has been a great expansion of biomedical engineering in areas such as software and computer engineering, medical electronics, clinical engineering, biomaterials and rehabilitation engineering and the scope of the field is enormous. Biomedical engineers design systems ranging from cardiac monitors to clinical computers, artificial hearts to contact lenses, wheel chairs to artificial tendons. Biomedical engineers are also integral in the management of technology in hospitals and health care delivery.
Australia has always been at the forefront of innovative developments in biomedical engineering. There is a strong and vibrant medical device and biotechnology industry in Australia with companies such as Cochlear (the bionic ear), Resmed (devices to treat sleep apnoea) and Ventracor (artificial hearts) all located in Sydney. Hermetic sealing of pacemakers, a range of novel biomaterials, new developments in medical imaging are amongst the many developments that have taken place in Australia.
To provide this growing industry with appropriately skilled professionals, a range of options in biomedical engineering education are available in Australia. The Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering at the University of New South Wales was established in 1979 and offers a five year concurrent degree program. At the end of the program, students graduate with a Bachelor of Engineering in their chosen field and a Master of Biomedical Engineering. Students study a specific undergraduate area of Engineering (Chemical, Computing, Electrical, Mechanical, Mechatronic, Software, Materials Science, Bioinformatics, or Telecommunications) simultaneously with a Master of Biomedical Engineering. Biomedical Engineering at UNSW is also available at a postgraduate level through programs such as a PhD and several Masters programmes. Research areas include the development of implantable medical devices including a bionic eye, physiological modelling and monitoring, tissue engineering and biomaterials.
Programmes offered by Queensland University of Technology, University of Sydney and Flinders University centre on undergraduate biomedical Engineering in Australia courses in biomedical engineering. The four year Queensland University of Technology degree is based in Mechanical Engineering with around one quarter of subjects being specialist biomedical subjects including biofluids, biomaterials, biomedical instrumentation, anatomy and physiology as well as the very popular health legislation and the medical environment. The University of Sydney’s course is also based in Mechanical Engineering with a major in Biomedical Engineering (Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Biomedical)). Research areas include disability assist devices, ceramic biomaterials, injury mechanics, biomaterials, drug delivery materials, finite element models of biomechanics, implant coating research and biomedical composites. The Flinders University programme concentrates more on electronic engineering.
Combined degrees are available at Swinburne University of Technology in
Victoria and the University of Queensland. Swinburne offers a Bachelor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering and a combined Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Sciences) and a Bachelor of Engineering (Electronics & Computer Systems). Students study physiology, biophysics, electronics, mathematics and physics, and gain skills in various aspects of physiological recording, signal analysis and technology used in advanced medical imaging, such as lung function, brain activity and intensive care instrumentation. Biomedical Engineering at the University of Queensland first started out as a minor within the Bachelor of Engineering degree in 2002 and has grown to a double major with other disciplines of Engineering in 2006. Students combine their biomedical studies with Chemical, Electrical or Computer Engineering.
Melbourne University offers a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering in Biocellular, Bioinfomatics, Biomechanics or Biosignal Processing with particular emphasis on computational bioinformatics, biomechanics, computational modelling, signal processing and biocellular engineering.
RMIT in Victoria offer a Bachelor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering with a strong technical focus and practical orientation integrated with personal and business skills development. Several other Universities in Australia have been key drivers for the growth of Biomedical Engineering Education in Australia including La Trobe University, Monash University, University of Technology, Sydney, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia through their Bachelor of Engineering/ Bachelor of Science combined degree programs.