Career in Biomedical Engineering


Photo courtesy of Phalinn Ooi

This article explains everything you need to know about Biomedical Engineering and covers the following topics.

  • What is Biomedical Engineering all about?
  • Scope of Biomedical Engineering in India and Abroad
  • List of colleges that offer BTech courses in Biomedical Engineering
  • Higher studies options in India and Abroad - MS, MTech and PhD in Biomedical Engineering
  • List of Biomedical Engineering companies and research centers in India
  • Research areas, specializations and innovations in Biomedical Engineering
  • Useful links

What is Biomedical Engineering all about?

Biomedical Engineering is the confluence of engineering, technology and biological sciences to improve the quality of healthcare, medicine and human life. Biomedical engineers and scientists are responsible for developing, designing and improving medical devices and procedures for efficient diagnosis, operation and treatment of diseases and other health ailments. Some examples of Biomedical Engineering innovations are artificial limbs, prosthetics, imaging machines and various other medical devices.

Biomedical Engineering is a highly interdisciplinary field. If you take a look at the curriculum of Biomedical Engineering, you will see a lot of subjects from diverse fields such as Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Physics etc. Since this field is vast and diverse, Biomedical Engineering comprises of numerous sub disciplines and some of them are as follows: Tissue Engineering, Biomedical Imaging, Systems Physiology, Bioinstrumentation, Biomechanics and many more.

Like every other engineering discipline, the foundation of Biomedical Engineering lies in the basic sciences - Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Therefore, students who are interested in pursuing a career in Biomedical Engineering must have interest in the basic sciences.

What is the difference between Bioengineering, Biological Engineering and Biomedical Engineering?

Many universities often use these terms interchangeably. In most cases, there is no difference between these terms. However, in some universities, Biological Engineering curriculum may lean more towards Biotechnology or focus more on applying engineering principles to biological sciences at the cellular and molecular level. Usage of these different terms can be very confusing and it is highly recommended that you take a look at the curriculum and syllabus of each university’s program online before you begin to apply.

Scope of Biomedical Engineering in India and Abroad:

India: Biomedical Engineering is still in the development stage in India and, therefore, scope is very limited for this field. One of the main reasons why progress is slow is due to the lack of integration between research institutions, hospitals and universities in India. In developed nations such as USA, UK and Singapore, excellent integration exists between universities and hospitals, thereby creating the perfect environment for R&D in Biomedical Engineering. In India, most of the jobs related to Biomedical Engineering are in non-tech areas such as service, maintenance, customer support, sales and management. Students interested in pursuing a career in research and core development work in Biomedical Engineering must look for jobs in universities, labs and research centers in India or pursue MS and PhD studies in USA, UK and other nations.

Abroad: The scope for this field is excellent abroad. Biomedical Engineering is doing extremely well in USA, UK, Germany, Singapore, Canada and Australia. Other countries such as Japan and China are also doing very well in this field. There has been some tremendous achievements and breakthroughs in these nations due to the excellent integration that exists between research centers, universities and hospitals, thereby enabling researchers, scientists, faculty and surgeons to work together to solve complex problems in medicine and healthcare. Pay packages are impressive for biomedical engineers in these countries. Students who are very ambitious and looking to climb up the ladder in this field will benefit immensely from a PhD degree in biomedical engineering. A career in Biomedical Engineering in the above mentioned nations will be very rewarding and satisfying, provided you work hard.

B.Tech Biomedical Engineering:

Biomedical Engineering is a highly specialized course and for this reason many students tend to pursue this field for graduate studies such as MS, MTech or PhD. An undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering and Biotechnology will give students a strong foundation for further studies in Biomedical Engineering. When compared with other engineering disciplines, very few Indian universities offer a BTech degree in Biomedical Engineering. Following is a list of top institutes that offer this course at the undergraduate level in India:

  • NIT, Raipur
  • NIT, Rourkela
  • TSEC, Mumbai
  • DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering, Mumbai
  • GEC, Gujarat
  • SSN College of Engineering - Anna University
  • BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore
  • VIT, Vellore
  • Manipal Institute of Technology, Bangalore
  • Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune
  • BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore
  • MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology, Bangalore

Higher studies options in India - MTech and PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Many universities in India offer MTech and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering. Considering how limited job opportunities are for this field in India, it is very important for aspiring biomedical engineering students to do their graduate studies from reputed universities such as the following:

  • IIT Bombay (MTech and PhD)
  • IIT BHU - MTech only
  • IIT Hyderabad (MTech and PhD)
  • IIT Kanpur (MTech and PhD)
  • IIT Kharagpur (MTech in Medical Imaging and Image Analysis)
  • IIT Madras (MTech in Applied Mechanics with specialization in Biomedical Engineering)
  • IISc, Bangalore (Interdisciplinary PhD in Bioengineering)
  • MNIT, Allahabad (MTech only)
  • NIT, Rourkela (MTech & PhD)
  • Manipal Institute of Technology (MTech in Biomedical Engineering)
  • COEP (MTech in Biomedical Instrumentation)
  • SCTIMST, Trivandrum (MS & PhD in Bioengineering - affiliated programme of SCTIMST offered at CMC, Vellore)
  • SCTIMST, Trivandrum (PhD in Biomedical Devices Technology - Joint programme of SCTIMST, CMC and IIT Madras)

MS & PhD Abroad:

Most Indian students who apply for MS and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering abroad are from backgrounds such as Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Biotechnology. USA, UK, Germany, Australia and Singapore are doing very well in Biomedical Engineering with the United States at the forefront of research in this field.

Upon completion of MS or PhD, students usually join industry or work in research institutions and universities as biomedical engineers. If you are ambitious and want to climb up the ladder in this field, then a PhD is imperative for creating your own niche in this field. A PhD degree will give you the ability to lead a team of researchers on projects, start your own research lab or become a professor and work in academia.

An MS or PhD degree in Biomedical Engineering gives students the opportunity to specialize in any one of the sub disciplines of Biomedical Engineering such as: Tissue Engineering, Neuroengineering, Biomedical Imaging, Computational Modeling, Biomechanics etc.

Companies in India:

  • L&T
  • General Electric Global Research, Bangalore
  • Stryker Global Technology Center
  • Deloitte Consulting India Pvt Ltd
  • Texas Instruments Inc.
  • Phillips Healthcare
  • Orbees Medical
  • Siemens
  • Covidien

List of Biomedical Engineering Research Centers in India:

  • Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Bombay
  • Centre for Biomedical Engineering, IIT Delhi
  • School of Biomedical Engineering, IIT BHU
  • Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering (BSBE), IIT Kanpur
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad
  • Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras
  • Department of Biomedical Engineering, IIT Ropar
  • Centre for Biosciences and Biomedical Engineering (BSBE), IIT Indore
  • School of Medical Science and Technology, IIT Kharagpur
  • Department of Bioengineering, CMC Vellore
  • Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore
  • General Electric Global Research, Bangalore, India

Note: Students interested in doing Biomedical Engineering projects can also try their luck in places such as National Physical Laboratories (NPL), NCBS Bangalore, TIFR Mumbai etc. Even though these institutes and organizations may not have an exclusive department named Biomedical Engineering, they also do work related to this field.

Research Areas: Biomedical Engineering has many sub-disciplines and research areas which goes to prove how diverse and vast this field is. Following are a few sub disciplines within this realm.

  • Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials
  • Biomechanics
  • Biomedical Imaging
  • Biomedical Electronics
  • Neuroengineering
  • Cardiovascular Engineering
  • Bioinformatics
  • Systems Physiology and many more

Some examples of Biomedical Engineering Innovations:

Minimally invasive surgeries: This is a type of surgical procedure where instead of cutting open the human body, surgeons instead make a few small incisions, insert a tube fitted with a tiny video camera into the body through the incisions and use the images sent back by the video to perform the surgery using specially designed surgical instruments. Minimally invasive surgeries are less painful, results in fewer scars, lesser infection and recovery is much faster.

Robotic surgeries: Robotic surgeries are similar to minimally invasive surgeries in that smaller incisions are required to complete the surgery. In this type of surgery, doctors control the robotic arm, which performs the actual surgery, using a computer or a remote control. The robotic arm consists of various surgical tools and cameras that gives surgeons excellent vision, precision and movement within the body, thereby making this more efficient than conventional surgeries. This type of surgery is currently available only in a few countries.

Non invasive medical devices: Non invasive medical devices are those that treat a particular problem without the requirement of needles and invasive procedures. A good example of a non invasive medical device that is currently being developed is needle free diabetes treatment. Instead of constantly drawing blood for tests, regular insulin injections etc. researchers are developing a biosensor that does all the testing without the need for drawing blood or giving shots routinely.

For more details on the latest innovations happening in Biomedical Engineering, read the following article.

Useful links:

BMES: BMES is a leading professional society in the USA and comprises of students, faculty, researchers and industry professionals working in Biomedical Engineering and allied areas. This organization has close to 6500 members and the website offers useful resources for students such as job boards, articles, events and many more.

The Grad Cafe: Grad cafe is a very popular forum for graduate school admissions in the USA. You can discuss questions related to MS and PhD applications in Biomedical Engineering programs in US universities, graduate school life, research experiences, scholarships, funding and many more.

Science Daily: Science Daily is an American news website that covers the latest news, topics and research on all areas under the realm of Science, including Bioengineering.

IEEE Spectrum: IEEE Spectrum is another great website that regularly updates latest news and articles related to Biomedical Engineering and other fields. The Biomedical Engineering section is further divided into 4 topics - bionics, devices, diagnostics, ethics and imaging.

Research Articles: For students who are looking to access journal papers and abstracts, look no further than the following: Sciencedirect, Google Scholar and Pubmed.